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EPL agrees broadcast rights renewals

May 13, 2021

By Colin Mann

As anticipated, English Premier League clubs have unanimously agreed a proposal to conclude a three-year renewal of the League’s UK live and non-live broadcast agreements with Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport.

This follows approval in principle for the renewal from Government after an extensive period of consideration.

The approval from Government will be embodied in an Exclusion Order under the Competition Act 1998, which will enable the Premier League to conclude the renewals without conducting its normal broadcast rights tender process.

In light of the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the English football pyramid, the Premier League was able to demonstrate to Government exceptional and compelling reasons for the Exclusion Order.

This is based on the renewals safeguarding the world-leading levels of financial support committed to the football community through solidarity, youth development and wider community and good causes contributions.

The UK renewals for the next broadcast cycle – from seasons 2022/2023 to 2024/2025 – will be concluded at the same overall value as the current arrangements between the Premier League and its broadcast partners.

As part of the Premier League’s developing strategic plan, the renewals will provide financial certainty to clubs throughout professional football as a result of maintaining current levels of support and enables the League to commit to increased funding. This will give security and continuity throughout the pyramid until at least 2025.

Pre-pandemic, the Premier League budgeted to commit £1.5 billion to the pyramid over a three-year period, more than any other sporting organisation provides to its community.

On the basis of the Exclusion Order and the UK renewals, that commitment will be maintained during the next rights cycle and will be supplemented by an additional £100 million of funding. This additional £100 million will be provided over the next four years only, and will extend support to areas of the football community particularly vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19.

The additional funding will be available to more than 1,000 clubs in the National League system, women’s and girls’ football, EFL League One and League Two clubs and the Football Foundation. It will also support a number of football-wide projects, which will include the Premier League’s work looking at head injuries in football, anti-discrimination and fan groups who receive funding from the Premier League.

“The Premier League would like to express our gratitude to our broadcast partners for their continued commitment to the Premier League and support for the football pyramid,” stated Richard Masters, Premier League Chief Executive. “We are hugely appreciative of the Government agreeing in principle to allow this arrangement and for their continued support for the Premier League and the English game. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid.

“We know that, once concluded, this will have a positive impact on the wider industry, jobs and tax revenues and will enable us to maintain and increase our existing solidarity and community financial commitments to the football pyramid for the next four years, even though we are yet to understand the full impact of the pandemic. It comes at an important time and will enable us to plan ahead with increased certainty against a more stable economic backdrop.

“Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport are excellent partners and provide fantastic coverage and programming to bring our competition to fans in the UK,” he added.

The Premier League continues to develop its strategic plan and will consult with all stakeholders to ensure a vibrant, competitive and sustainable football pyramid. The plan focuses on competition structure, calendar, governance and financial sustainability.

In a Statement, BT  said it welcomed the Premier League’s in principle agreement for a three year renewal of its current broadcast agreement. This means, subject to terms, that until 2025 BT Sport will continue to show 52 exclusively live Premier League games per season.

Marc Allera, CEO Consumer, said: “Throughout this difficult year the Premier League and broadcasters have all worked together to find pro-active solutions to ensure the Premier League, and the lower leagues, have a safe and secure way out of the pandemic.  This in principle renewal of our broadcast rights is great for our viewers, but also helps to provide vital support for the broader football community that relies on the Premier League.”

“The fantastic news for our viewers is that, once the deal is concluded, they will be able to continue to enjoy the Premier League alongside the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League exclusively live on BT Sport.”

Once the deal is concluded, BT Sport will continue the current schedule, kicking the weekend off with Saturday lunchtime fixtures plus bumper weeks of back to back and simultaneous mid-week fixtures. BT Sport will accommodate the new Premier League agreement around fixture congestion during UEFA Champions League weeks, with the BT Sport Saturday game moving to a prime evening slot of 7.45pm when teams involved have played in Europe on the prior Wednesday.

Under the terms of the in principle agreement with the Premier League, BT is unable to confirm the exact cost for the extended rights. However, BT can confirm that the cost of the rights reflect current market conditions and are in line with current market expectations.

According to Paolo Pescatore, TMT analyst at PP Foresight,  the agreement will provide much needed financial certainty to all parties, but will come as a huge blow to sports streamer DAZN, which was keen to add The Crown Jewels of UK sports broadcasting rights to its fledgling service.

“The outcome puts BT in a far stronger position in forging a strategic deal with DAZN,” he suggests. “Otherwise the streamer will be forced to wait another three years at a minimum to get these lucrative sports rights.”

“Supporting clubs in the lower leagues is a noble effort, which was key in getting the extension over the line. The additional amount is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions secured for the next Premier League cycle. Arguably, more could have been done in the absence of an auction which would have led to a further a decline in the value for the domestic rights,” he says.

“All eyes will now be on the overseas rights and whether the Premier League can maintain or increase the value as per last time,” he concludes.

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