Controversy over an FA Cup streaming rights deal which was criticised for encouraging gambling seems to have been resolved, with news emerging that the FA is holding talks with the BBC and BT Sport regarding coverage of matches currently only available via streaming, and which fell outside the ties selected by the two broadcast licensees.
A group of seven betting companies held the exclusive streaming rights to the matches and, following the raised concerns, agreed to offer them for free to a different platform, removing the need to hold a betting account. The matches were only available to anyone who has placed a bet or put a deposit in their account in the 24 hours before kick-off.
The bookmakers (Bet365, Betfair, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes, Unibet and Paddy Power) held the domestic rights to stream matches that are not televised by BBC or BT Sport and fell outside of the Saturday 3pm blackout period to customers who held active accounts with them. The arrangement was made following a deal between The FA and sports media rights group IMG in January 2017.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) released a statement on behalf of the bookmakers which read: “Our members did not seek exclusivity for the rights to screen FA Cup games. They are therefore happy for IMG to offer the rights to screen these games to the Football Association or another appropriate body so that the games can be viewed for free by the public with immediate effect.”