Amazon enters Premier League market, BT Sport adds to rights portfolio

Internet company Amazon and pay-television broadcaster BT Sport have today (Thursday) acquired the final set of domestic rights to the English Premier League, with the football competition also wrapping up its rights line-up in Ireland.

The rights in the UK and Ireland are for the three seasons spanning 2019-20 to 2021-22, with the fresh UK deals following an initial allocation of rights in February.

Package F, acquired by Amazon’s Prime Video service, comprises 20 matches per season from one Bank Holiday and one midweek fixture programme. Amazon’s package includes the right, for the first time in the UK, to make available a full round of live Premier League matches.

Package G, acquired by BT Sport, is made up of 15 matches from two midweek fixture programmes and five matches from the split weekend – a new initiative that will create an opportunity for a mid-season player break.

In February, pay-television broadcaster Sky retained the bulk of live domestic rights to the Premier League, with the award of contracts signifying a reversal in the trend of sky-rocketing fees from recent tenders, albeit with two packages left on the table.

Incumbent rights-holders Sky and BT Sport secured five of the seven live packages on offer at a total value of £4.464bn (€5.09bn/$6.22bn). At the time, the Premier League said there was interest from “multiple bidders” for the remaining two live packages in the marketplace.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said today: “Sky and BT are established Premier League partners and provide first-rate coverage of the competition through their live-match broadcasts and comprehensive programming. We welcome Amazon as an exciting new partner and we know Prime Video will provide an excellent service on which fans can consume the Premier League.

“The interest in our UK rights is testament to the fantastic competition delivered by our clubs. This outcome will support their continued efforts to put on the best possible football and use their popularity and reach to have a positive impact on the sport and beyond.”

BT’s latest acquisition takes its total rights package up to 52 matches per season from 2019-20. The telco said the 20 additional matches will cost £90m, bringing the total cost for 52 games to £975m over three years. The three-year rights from 2019-20 will cost £975m for 52 games compared with £960m for 42 games at present.

BT stressed that it has remained financially disciplined during this process and remains in a “strong position” to make a return on investment through subscription, wholesale, commercial and advertising revenues. BT recently agreed a multi-year deal to offer Sky’s Now TV service, which includes Sky Sports, from early 2019.

Andy Haworth, managing director for content and strategy for BT’s Consumer division, said: “Today’s Premier League announcement, and the recent deal with Now TV, means BT TV customers will have access to all of the best exclusively live sporting action in the UK. We look forward to continuing as a partner of the Premier League and showcasing the most exciting league in the world.”

In Ireland, the Premier League has concluded the sale of 233 live matches per season split into eight packages of rights, the same seven packages of rights as in the UK and an additional package of 33 Saturday 3pm matches.

Sky Sports has acquired four packages, totalling 128 matches per season, BT Sport two packages, totalling 52 matches per season, and pay-television broadcaster Premier Sports two packages, totalling 53 matches per season.