Amazon.com has won rights to show English Premier League soccer matches for the first time, granting members of its Prime Video service access to 20 matches per season. It secured one of two remaining domestic packages available for three years from the 2019/20 season, the Premier League said, with pay-TV group BT picking up the other.
These two three-year lots of 20 games a season failed to reach their reserve price in the auction in February, when BT and Sky spent £4.5billion between them on 160 games. The league had hoped that these innovative packages – two chances to show all 10 games of a bank holiday or midweek fixture programme – would tempt the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Google into the market for live rights.
That hope has now been delivered, although there is no confirmation yet on how much Amazon has paid for its games while BT has revealed it has paid only £90million for the additional 60 games, bringing its total outlay to £975million.
Amazon will stream the first round of midweek games in December and all 10 games on Boxing Day via its Amazon Prime Video service, which currently costs £7.99 a month or £79 for an annual subscription.
In a statement, Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said: ‘We are extremely pleased that Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon have invested in these rights and all view the Premier League and our clubs as vital parts of their live sports offerings.’ Fifteen of BT’s extra games will come from two midweek fixture programmes and five from a new split weekend in January which will enable the Premier League to take a mid-winter break for the first time – a move which will delight the Football Association and whoever is managing the England team.
On a busy day of announcements at the Premier League’s summer meeting, it was also confirmed that the ‘big six’ clubs have won their fight to take a bigger share of the top tier’s booming international broadcasting revenue.
The domestic TV cash has always been distributed on a meritocratic basis, depending on where clubs finish in the league, but proceeds from foreign broadcasters have been shared equally since 1992, as nobody predicted the sums involved would become so significant. In recent years, however, the league’s top clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – have argued that they should get more of the overseas income as they are the clubs foreign fans want to watch.
Any change to the Premier League’s rules needs a two-thirds majority – at least 14 of the 20 clubs – and the big six failed to achieve this at a league shareholders’ meeting in October, prompting fears that the league’s successful approach to selling its rights collectively was about to collapse, with some suggesting the big six could be tempted to form a European super league.
Those concerns appear to have focused minds as a compromise has been reached. From 2019-20, the start of the next three-year rights cycle, any increase in the current international rights package, which is inevitable, will be distributed according to league position.
Overall, the total pot of central revenues – domestic and international broadcast rights and sponsorship deals – will be distributed on a 1.8:1 basis, meaning the champions will earn 80 per cent more than the team that finishes last from 2019-20 onward. This is a shift from the current ratio of 1.6:1 that has been in place since the league’s formation. ‘When the Premier League was formed in 1992 nobody could have envisaged the scale of international growth in the competition which exists now,’ said Scudamore. ‘Back then the clubs put in place a revenue-sharing system that was right for the time and has served the league well, enabling them to invest and improve in all areas.
‘This new agreement will continue that trend with a subtle change that further incentivises on-pitch achievement and maintains the Premier League’s position as the most equitable in Europe in terms of sharing central revenues.’ Having already signed huge uplifts in its deals with broadcasters in Brazil, China and the United States, the league announced another international broadcast agreement at the meeting, the sale of 233 live matches a season to BT, Premier Sports and Sky for the Irish market. BT has bought 52 games a season, Premier Sports 53 games, including a match at 3pm on Saturdays, and Sky 128 games.
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