Premier League increases live TV matches, expands on-demand

Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 04-05-2012

The jewel in the UK pay-TV crown that is Premier League football is shining brighter as the football governing body is to expand the rights packages available.

Inviting interested parties to tender for its UK Live audio visual rights spanning seasons 2013/14-2015/16, the Premier League is offering rights to a total of 154 matches. These will be split into seven packages plus a free-to-air highlights package - including 'catch-up' rights.

The former will consist of five packages of 26 matches and two packages of 12 matches. No single buyer will be allowed to acquire more than 116 matches so that, says the Premier League, it can create “a more attractive and compelling offering for both broadcasters and fans”. Furthermore it says that in doing this it will allow the “continued protection of the Saturday 3pm 'closed window' and minimise further displacement of Premier League fixtures”.

In a separate sales process for the other packages, the Premier League will create two "near live" long form packages each containing 226 matches; one for linear and the other for on-demand exploitation, plus an Internet-based clips package for all 380 matches.

The Premier League assures that both the live and "near live" packages, rumoured to be broadcast at 8.30pm on a Saturday, will be available for exploitation on a technology-neutral basis.

The new deal is expected to see increased competition for BSkyB which has dominated the Premier League since its inception, and which currently owns five out the existing six packets of 23 games. ESPN, which also owns limited Premier League rights, Al Jazeera, which has netted French football rights over the last six months, plus IT firms such as Google and even Apple are also thought to be interested in making a play for the Premier League cash machine.