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Premier League plans revamp of UK TV rights deal ahead of auction

Premier League plans revamp of UK TV rights deal ahead of auction

The Premier League is gearing up for a significant overhaul of its television rights in the United Kingdom, with plans aimed at extending the deal’s duration to four years.

The Financial Times reports that the ambitious strategy also includes restructuring the package offerings to feature fewer games with larger packages in a bid to boost revenues.

The UK government’s decision to permit the league and its broadcasters to extend their previous agreements during the pandemic means that the price of rights has not been determined since the £5 billion deal covering rights for 2019-2022.

Premier League officials are finalising the auction process, with the length of the deal likely to be extended to four years, breaking away from the established three-year cycle. 

The shift is a response to feedback from broadcasters, who have expressed concerns that the frequent auctions add risk to the game ownership, leaving less time for investment in production and broadcast elements.

Longer-term deals spanning six to ten years are not uncommon in the UK, while the number of games up for auction is poised for a significant increase from the current 200, with matches spread across Friday to Monday, including early slots on Saturdays.

Officials are also working on a new auction structure featuring fewer than the current seven packages, with expectations that the number could decrease to five, though nothing has been finalised yet.

A notable effect of reducing the number would be the elimination of the smaller package of 20 games introduced in the 2018 auction, aimed at attracting tech and streaming firms. 

The package allowed Amazon to broadcast games around key dates like Christmas and its retail sales days.

However, if Amazon wishes to secure a larger package, it would need to submit a higher bid, potentially transforming it into a full-fledged sports channel rather than just a marketing tool for its retail services.

The auction is expected to commence in the coming weeks, with major bidders such as Sky, DAZN and TNT Sports anticipated to participate.

The proposed changes are designed to enable Premier League chiefs to secure higher rights fees, as a larger number of games over an extended period is likely to command a higher price, even if the cost per game decreases.

However, analysts foresee potential constraints on bidders’ willingness to spend, given the challenging TV market conditions, as consumers also seek to cut expenses amid evolving viewing habits.

Also read: ITV seals four-year broadcast deal for England matches.

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