BT: “Covid will correct sports rights prices”

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Simon Green, Head of BT Sport, believes one of the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be a decrease in the value of television sports rights, which in the past 3 decades have risen considerably and consistently.

Green, speaking to The Guardian, said: “I personally believe that Covid-19 will cause a correction in the markets for television sports rights which will mean the value will not rise as it has done in the past. I think everyone will be more discerning about what they pay given that the country is facing a potential recession which could leave viewers with less money in their pockets.”

In November of last year, BT Sport paid £1.2 billion to retain the broadcast rights to Champions League and Europa League football – the same amount it paid for the previous rights cycle. For the Premier League 2019 to 2022 rights cycle, Sky and BT Sport were able to reduce their combined rights fee from £5.14 billion to £4.46 billion.

Green believes that, with the impact of the coronavirus, a trend in decreased sporting rights fees will continue.

He continued: “We want to be able to offer customers value and while it is impossible to say exactly what will happen, there will be a different approach. At BT, we will look at every tender-right that comes along and value it accordingly. What the lockdown highlighted was the importance of live sport: when it returned with the Bundesliga, our audience over three channels was 750,000 compared to 100,000 before.”


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