Will the threat from live-streaming force broadcasters to pay even more for the Premier League

As the Premier League kicks off this weekend, and we tune in to watch on Sky Sports and BT Sport, with highlights on BBC’s Match of the Day over the next nine months, perhaps it’s worth wondering how long the tried and trusted formats will stay as they are.

Since its inception 25 years ago, the Premier League has been broadcast on Sky Sports with a highlights package on free-to-air TV on a Saturday night after the news. There have been small changes to the framework – ITV getting in on the action with a highlights package of their own in the early 2000s, as well as some live games on the ill-fated ITV Digital. Sky, too, have had to share the pay TV rights with Setanta Sports, ESPN and now BT Sport providing competition as well as variety.

But for the most part, it’s been fairly easy to know when and where the Premier League will be showing. And whilst that might still be the case for years to come, there could be a shake up on the cards, too.

Earlier this week, in an interview with The Times, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said that they would consider bids from live-streaming and OTT providers like Amazon when it came to the negotiations for the next round of TV rights.

Beyond just being a sign of the times, though, this may well turn out to be yet another example of the Premier League’s savvy approach to these negotiations. The Guardian also reports that because of interest from the likes of Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon, any, “heated auction involving deep-pocketed tech firms,” could lead to an increase in the price that Sky would have to pay in order to keep hold of their prized sporting possession.

The idea that the Premier League’s most recent TV rights deal – which has precipitated a massive rise in spending over the past few transfer windows – will lead to a bubble which could burst over the next few years isn’t a new one. But the jump from £3bn to over £5bn in UK TV rights alone from the deal which ended in 2015, to the one which came into effect a year ago is a bigger jump than we’ve seen before. But that’s not to say that the Premier League aren’t able to use the interest from the digital media companies who are keen to see sport on their live-streaming platforms in order to leverage more from the traditional broadcasters.

Anyone who wants to watch Premier League football in the UK on Facebook or Amazon will probably have to wait, then, but the fact they’re part of the picture at all shows their power.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 232 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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