Initial Thoughts on the 2013/14 Domestic Premier League Broadcasting Deal

Summary

The Premier League (PL) announced in June 2012 that Sky and BT had won the latest domestic live PL broadcasting tender, providing the PL with a record £3bn in revenue. It has been reported that such a figure is a 71% increase on the previous deal with Sky and ESPN.

The average overall price per match paid by the broadcasters has risen from £4.7m to £6.6m. Sky secured five of the seven packages on offer (116 matches per season from the 2013-14 season for three seasons) after paying £2.3bn.  BT won two packages worth 38 games per season for three years from the 2013-14 season, after bidding £738m.

Comments

  1. BT have been active for some time in trying to source PL rights. Previously, it had been part of a number of broadcasters battling with Sky in the Ofcom investigation into the wholesaling of live PL matches. Initially, they were aiming to get Sky Sports 1 and 2 which show live PL matches, onto its BT Vision platform. That conflict is still to be resolved before the Competition Appeal Tribunal. In a number of ways, BT’s entry into the tender process was a natural extension of its need to get top premium content on its platforms. BT will hope that acquiring two packages will act as its own ‘battering ram’ to further its own cross-media, bundled internet offering.
  2. ESPN will no doubt be thoroughly disappointed to miss out to BT. Like Setanta previously, ESPN had built its cross-platform channel on its PL offering. It still has the rights for one more season and will have contingency plans in place. They still posses the live FA Cup rights as well as a raft of live European football and US sports rights. Unlike Setanta, they are backed, to a degree, with the deep pockets of Disney and so may take a longer term view on building on a range of different sporting rights. The effective measure of whether losing the PL rights has had a major impact on its subscriber base will only come this time next year. The opportunity cost of not winning the PL rights may be more aggressive spending on other higher end sports rights.
  3. Its fair to say the £1+bn increase on the domestic deal was an astonishing increase. The last domestic tender produced relatively flat growth which may have led analysts to believe modest growth would be achievable for the current tender. Ultimately, the degree of competition for the packages was significantly more fierce than in the previous tender with two broadcasters with very deep pockets ramping up the price. It would be as surprising as the current deal if the next tender produces such astronomical growth.
  4. Many would argue that ESPN was very much the junior partner to Sky. With Sky having 5 of the 6 packages as well as assisting ESPN with its channel sales, it’s less likely both companies would be classed as a duopoly. Rather, Sky has been the established broadcasting incumbent of the PL. Other successful broadcasters have to date not managed to successfully win a subsequent PL tender.

Have a listen to my latest podcast on the wider implications and consiequences for the PL, its clubs, broadcasters and subscribers here.

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