The Sky Sports team from commentary box to board must be pretty pleased with their work. In the bidding for the Premier League rights package from 2019 to 2022 they’ve secured almost everything they might have hoped for and at a discount of 16 per cent a match.
With two packages yet to be declared, BT Sport must also be reasonably cheerful, even if Saturday lunchtime isn’t quite as good a timeslot as the Saturday teatime one it holds now. At £295 million for 32 games it almost has a bargain, at least if you consider the fate of the previous rights holders Setanta and ESPN.
Between them the two broadcasters have committed £4.464 billion over three years.
The £1.3 million a season paid for the old first division in 1983 (source: S&P Global Market Intelligence) wouldn’t even make the down payment on a new player.
“The outcome so far of the auction will be relief for the incumbents Sky and BT. The rights are the keystone of their pay TV businesses, and a loss would certainly have met with a negative reaction from the UK stock market tomorrow morning. They have also seen off the prospect of a challenge from a newcomer like Amazon or Google – even though this prospect was more a case of hype than expectation,” said Tim Westcott, director – research and analysis, programming, IHS Markit.
Indeed, the whole presence, or lack of it, of Amazon or Google suggests they’re playing the long game in the extreme. Based on BT’s £9 million a game that’s a lot of extra parcels that would need to be shipped.
Richard Amos of Ostmodern, which works with broadcasters and sports brands alike thinks an entrance from the tech guys is still a possibility. “Arguably, if the rumours are true it’s a smart tactic from the Football League looking to test the water by trialling Amazon’s ability to add value to the live sports experience, as the latter have with the NFL. It’s certainly interesting to see how this will play out,” he says.
In Germany, Amazon have audio rights to the Bundesliga, which reminds me in part of how Sky began coverage of overseas Test Cricket, before persuading the ECB that it should drop out of the list of protected sports events.
The football fan has never been so lucky as to see the Premier League on free-TV in the first place.