Discovery Communications is set to bid for broadcasting rights to the English Premier League, with its head David Zaslav reported to have flown to London to meet with the league’s officials.
According to the Financial Times, the value of the rights, which will be for three years from the 2016-17 season, could amount to £4 billion (€5.22 billion), or 30% more than was previously paid.
The rights for the seven packages on offer, which consist of a total of 168 games a season, are currently held by Sky (five) and BT (two).
Both companies have confirmed they will also participate in the auction, the first round of which is due to start on February 6.
Although Discovery did not participate in the previous auction, which was held in 2012, it has a growing presence in the sports sector, being a majority (51%) shareholder in Eurosport.
As previously reported in Broadband TV News, following the acquisition of the controlling stake in Eurosport, Discovery may now be pursuing a strategy of purchasing attractive sports rights.
The upcoming Premier League auction will come against the backdrop of a complaint by Virgin Media to Ofcom in September 2014.
The cable operator, which is owned by John Malone’s Virgin Media – Malone is also the largest shareholder in Discovery – claimed the current system of awarding rights results in viewers paying more for fewer games.
Ofcom launched an enquiry into whether the sale of Premier League rights was in breach of UK or European competition law last November.
Its findings are expected to be known this March.