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Sky has acquired its biggest package of games since the start of the Premier League after the English top flight sold the majority of its domestic broadcast rights to the Comcast-owned broadcaster alongside TNT Sports for more than £1.6bn a year.
The deal, worth £6.7bn over four seasons including highlights awarded to the BBC, was a critical evaluate of the Premier League’s bargaining power with broadcasters, locking in revenues until 2029.
Sky has acquired four of the five packages being sold through the auction, the maximum for any one broadcaster, with more than 200 games during the season including its key “Super Sunday” slots. The remaining package of games on Saturday lunchtime has been acquired by TNT, the broadcaster co-owned by BT and Warner Brothers Discovery.
The deal means that Amazon will no longer screen Premier League matches in the UK, while other rival bidders such as Dazn, backed by billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, have lost out on securing any Premier League matches for the next four years.
The auction was seen as a major evaluate for Premier League chief Richard Masters because it was the first time in five years that the top flight had taken its domestic rights to market. It had rolled over a pre-existing deal during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to clubs seen by the Financial Times, Masters wrote that the £6.4bn sum represented a 4 per cent boost in average annual rights fees over the previous deal. However, the £282mn paid by the BBC was flat.
The result of the auction “underlines the strength of the Premier League”, Masters said, adding that it was “testament to our clubs, players and managers who continue to deliver the world’s most competitive football in full stadiums, and to supporters, who create an unrivalled atmosphere every week”.
Sky group chief executive Dana Strong said its customers “will see a significant boost in the number of matches from the most iconic league in the world”.
Although broadcasters are paying a higher total sum, the league increased the total number of live matches in the package to 270 a year, from 200. It also reduced the number of packages available for bidding to five from seven, to boost competitive tension for the rights.
Such is the Premier League’s global appeal that the competition’s international broadcast rights revenues had previously surpassed the value of its domestic deals. Previous estimates put its international rights at about £5.3bn from 2022-25, versus £5.1bn for the domestic deals.
The league is among the UK’s top cultural exports but has clashed with the government over the upcoming introduction of an independent regulator for English football. The league has warned that the Conservative government’s decision could hamper its competitiveness and boost political meddling.
Rising broadcast fees could also reinforce calls for the Premier League to funnel more money to the rest of the football pyramid. The government has urged the top flight and the English Football League, which runs the three lower professional divisions, to agree on the terms of a redistribution deal but negotiations have dragged on.
The Premier League is more resistant to the pressures faced by rival domestic football competitions across Europe, which do not boast the same global following.