April 28 – The Premier League’s underpinning £1.5 billion domestic TV rights deals could be rolled over for at least another two years if government agrees to waive any competition law concerns.
The Premier League has held talks with current rights holders Sky, BT Sport, Amazon and the BBC with a view to extending their current deals unchanged from the current agreements that end with the 2021-22 season. The auction for the new domestic rights would under normal circumstances have already begun with a view to having a three-season deal in place well in advance of the August 2022 cycle.
The covid pandemic is changing the game for rights owners and buyers, and their broadcast scheduling, with Premier League matches currently stripped across the weekend. The balance of the live sports broadcast market was already being challenged by streaming services with no clear outcome of the TV market disruption having established itself or income level expectations.
With that broadcast disruption, and uncertainty over when fans will be back to fill stadia to capacities, locking in domestic TV revenues at existing levels would bring a significant platform of stability to Premier League clubs.
There had been concern among clubs that the domestic TV deal could have fallen in value as broadcast rights values across Europe for domestic leagues have either topped out (in the case if Italy and Germany), or in the case of France plummeted.
With broadcast revenues having looked to have reached a ceiling, the real motivation for the clubs in the European Super League’s attempted breakaway becomes clearer. Any new deal with existing broadcasters would likely include clauses that clubs cannot repeat that breakaway attempt and destabilise or devalue the broadcast rights any further. As it stands, trust is already very thin.
Securing the current annual £1.5 billion fee for potentially the whole of the next three year rights cycle is apparently being looked on favourably by government who have committed to a review of the English game. Government will be looking for guarantees that the revenue distributions throughout the game from the broadcast deals is maintained, and potentially increased.
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