Explained: The record £6.7bn TV rights deal and what it means for Premier League football

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 The record £6.7bn TV rights deal and what it means for Premier League football

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The Premier League has confirmed that Sky Sports will show a record number of matches in a new four-year deal starting from the 2025-26 season.

Sky Sports has secured live rights packages B (50 matches), C (66 matches), D (44 matches) and E (58 matches), guaranteeing a minimum of 215 live games per season. This coverage will encompass over 140 weekend fixtures, Friday and Monday evening clashes, and full coverage of three midweek match rounds. 

All matches occurring outside the traditional Saturday 3pm blackout, even those shifted to Sunday 2pm due to European competitions, will now be broadcast live. 

For the first time ever, Sky Sports will broadcast all 10 matches on the final day of each season. They will also offer multiple live matches on a number of weekends at 2pm on Sundays.

TNT Sports, formerly known as BT Sport, has clinched live rights package A, offering exclusive coverage of 52 matches per season. This includes matches played on Saturdays at 12:30pm and complete coverage of two midweek match rounds. 

BBC Sport has secured highlights rights for all 380 matches each season. This includes additional digital rights for the BBC’s online platforms, ensuring the continuation of their ‘Match of the Day’ programme. 

Amazon Prime Video, which currently broadcasts 20 matches per season as part of the league’s existing agreement, has not retained the rights for the new domestic cycle, spanning until the conclusion of the 2028-29 campaign.

The Premier League say that the announced agreements, collectively valued at £6.7billion, will inject financial certainty into professional football clubs until at least 2029. 

Richard Masters, Premier League chief executive, said: “We are delighted to announce new deals with Sky Sports and TNT Sports that will extend our partnership for a further four years and see more Premier League matches than ever before shown live from 2025-26 onwards.

“As long-standing and valued partners, Sky Sports and TNT Sports are renowned for consistently delivering world-class coverage and programming. We have enjoyed record audiences and attendances in recent seasons, and we know that their continued innovation will drive more people to watch and follow the Premier League. 

 “We are also extremely pleased to extend our partnership with BBC Sport, which will continue to bring weekly highlights of all Premier League matches to the widest possible audience in the UK. Match of the Day has been an institution for generations of football fans in this country and remains incredibly popular with fans of all ages.

“The outcome of this process underlines the strength of the Premier League and is testament to our clubs, players and managers who continue to deliver the world’s most competitive football in full stadiums, and to supporters, who create an unrivalled atmosphere every week.”


What’s changed in this deal?

Quite a few things actually, perhaps best summed up as: more money, more live matches but one less broadcaster.

It is noteworthy that all games outside of the ‘closed’ Saturday 3pm blackout window will now be broadcast live. So, for example, if a team plays in a European game on a Thursday and their match is moved to Sunday at 2pm, that will now be shown live (Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Fulham on Sunday is an example from this season where that was not the case).

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We’ll get into the money side of things in a bit more detail below but another big talking point is that this deal means matches will only be broadcast live on Sky Sports and TNT Sports, with Amazon Prime Video losing its status as rights holders.

Is this a good deal for the Premier League and its clubs?

This has to be viewed in the context of the domestic deals every other league (and sport) has been getting. This is still an increase in money for the Premier League (value growth is pretty modest at around 4 per cent annually in total value compared to the previous cycle) and while that is not a double-digit increase, other sports and leagues would love to be in a similar situation.

A good reference point is what has gone on in France. Yes, Ligue 1 does not hold the commercial appeal of the Premier League but its auction for domestic rights has gone so badly it has been scrapped. The league now finds itself desperate for the likes of Amazon and beIN to offer more after getting no bids that met the minimum prices for the two main Ligue 1 live packages from 2024 to 2029.

Italy has fared rather better, with Serie A announcing in October a deal worth €4.5bn (£3.9bn, $4.9bn) over five years (around €900m per year), significantly less than the figure commanded by the Premier League. Both DAZN and Sky secured broadcasting rights. 

The other important bit of context is that the Premier League has enjoyed significant growth in its international rights and that could still continue. This deal is for domestic rights only, with overseas rights negotiated separately.

This domestic deal is, broadly speaking, more of the same of what we have seen previously. There’s an argument that it’s actually more old-fashioned than the one it’s replacing. Here we have two pay-TV giants, loads of games but still not all of them, and the 3pm blackout survives for four more years. It might be the last deal of its kind.

The Premier League still has a way to go to compete with the sums paid for NFL rights in the U.S., though. A deal which began earlier this year earns the league more than $100bn over an 11-year period.

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Who are the winners and losers out of the broadcasters?

There is one big winner here: Sky. It is getting lots more matches but not paying vastly more for it.

How many more? Up to 100 extra matches per season, meaning the number of games shown exclusively live on Sky will increase by 70 per cent.

Sky will continue to show Premier League football (Photo: James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

There was some speculation about what TNT Sports would do, as this was the first domestic auction since it entered the market following the buyout of BT Sport. Some wondered if its huge investment in UEFA rights (for the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League), and the cheaper content it’s retained or picked up (Ligue 1, NBA, English club rugby), would be a big enough proposition for its audience. It has clearly decided that to be relevant in the UK, it needs some live Premier League action, too.

Amazon Prime Video not getting anything isn’t a surprise – in fact, it did not bid this time around. The packages they were handed – gift-wrapped, with a bow and glitter – were not offered this time and so the company decided not to compete with Sky and TNT Sports for what was available. The absence of those smaller packages this time was a big clue that it would not feature when the announcement was made. It is worth noting Amazon will show Champions League matches from next season.

Amazon actually got very lucky when it joined the rights landscape. The Premier League was desperate to bring a streamer into the mix, so it gave out 20 games at a bargain price that could be used to sell Prime subscriptions in December each year. England’s top flight also decided to roll this deal over for another three years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is likely Amazon has worked out that it’s picked up all the Prime subscribers it’s going to get from having a little bit of Premier League action and the extra subscribers it would get from trying to outbid Sky/TNT Sports for a package aren’t worth it.

DAZN is an interesting one. It has been very coy about its UK plans in recent months. Its approach appears to have been: “We’re not really in but we wouldn’t say no.” That’s not really going to cut it with the Premier League, though. The overriding impression is that DAZN just can’t afford Premier League live rights in the UK.

As for the rest, Viaplay basically pulled the plug on most of its overseas expansion plans and nobody has been able to persuade Netflix to do live sport on this kind of level yet.

Apple is the intriguing one. It was in talks with the NFL over the league’s Sunday streaming package but it pulled out after deciding it was too expensive. They have, of course, got a global streaming deal with Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States. One for the future, perhaps, from a UK perspective.

 (Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

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