Following a season where more live football was covered than ever before, the Premier League has extended plans to cover the game moving forward. There had been suggestions that live broadcasting rights would go to auction to be picked up by the highest bidder but, instead, fans can look forward to a similar plan as before.
TV Deals Rolled Over as Study Finds Football Fans Continue To Binge Football
Is It All Too Much?
Existing rights owned by Sky Sports, BT Sports and Amazon have simply been extended. The companies involved see the Premier League as one of the most important parts of their package but what does the deal mean for the average fan?
Football supporters’ viewing habits were put under the microscope as part of a wider survey carried out by Casino Winner. It found that, on average, viewers have been watching 3.2 games per week during the period that they have been locked out of the stadiums.
Naturally, within those figures, there are some notable variations with followers of Burnley taking in up to nine games a week. At an average of just over three, there is the question of whether the new deal is actually worth it. The numbers have been taken at a time when there was blanket coverage across the Premier League with all ten games shown live during every round. Less than a third of those matches were, therefore, being taken in by the viewers.
It could be argued that there has been a surfeit of football since Project Restart. Broadcasters were eager to get involved and live matches returned to terrestrial television for the first time in many years.
There are, of course, hopes that the game will be back to normal at the start of the 2021/22 Premier League season. The intention is that grounds will be back to full capacity and those live viewing figures will go down as a result. Alternatively, fans may be cautious about going back out into large crowds or there may simply be a degree of inertia involved after spending long periods at home.
Only time will tell but would steady viewing figures have an effect on live football rights moving forward?
More of the Same
In the wake of Project Restart, there has been a period where every Premier League match has been covered live. The satellite broadcasters were joined by the BBC and, between them, blanket live broadcasts have been in place.
That system will come to an end as supporters are allowed back into stadiums, but these football tv deals remain extensive ones. Sky Sports and BT Sport will continue to cover multiple matches across EPL weekends while Amazon Prime will step in with around 20 live games across the season.
The parties with most to gain from the announcement are the Premier League clubs. There were fears that an auction would dilute the returns and the 20 teams would be earning less revenue as a result. As the footballing world starts to come out of a period where fans’ spending on match days has been slashed, this could have been problematic.
The current deal remains unchanged from the £5 billion which was agreed back in 2018. The bigger winners are the lower league clubs with the Premier League making a commitment to increase its £1.5 billion funding by some £100 million over the next four years.
Place Your Bids
While the Premier League chose not to resort to an auction in 2021, the door is open to a similar bidding system in the future. There are new broadcasters looking to get a slice of the EPL pie and that could lead to lucrative contracts in the years to come.
Until recently, Sky Sports and BT Sport enjoyed a duopoly in the UK with the BBC stepping in to provide edited highlights via their long-standing Match of the Day programme. Amazon Prime have since broken through with their modest live coverage and there may well be some new contenders in the near future.
DAZN is a popular live streaming service run by Kevin Mayer who was previously an executive at the Disney Corporation. The company has already made its mark on global football by beating Sky to an exclusive rights deal for Italy’s Serie A. DAZN are also edging in to other high profile sports and it seems almost certain that they will be looking at an arrangement for the Premier League moving forward.
Other new streaming and subscription services cannot be ruled out. If Amazon Prime are enjoying substantially increased revenue on the back of live football then who’s to say that Netflix won’t be joining in? It’s pure speculation of course but there is a good chance that the slices of that Premier League pie are about to be more thinly distributed.
Footing the Bill
While we are enjoying more live football than ever before, the inclusion of the BBC as part of the viewing portfolio has played a part. Having previously been faced with two subscriptions for Sky Sports and BT Sport for many years, the possibility of adding Amazon Prime, DAZN and others into the mix is very real.
Will football fans be willing to pay for multiple subscription services as a result of multiple TV deals, or will they finally decide that enough is enough? We’ll only know the answer to this question when this fascinating survey is revisited in future years.