Media company Nordic Entertainment (Nent) Group has acquired exclusive English Premier League rights in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in a landmark deal from 2022-23 to 2027-28.
The purchase of the exclusive rights in Norway is a blow to commercial broadcaster TV2, which has held the Premier League rights in the country over the last four cycles (since 2010-11).
The deal is the Premier League’s first in the new international sales cycle.
Broadcasters in the Nordic region were invited to bid for English Premier League rights over six seasons, as well as across the hitherto standard length of three seasons, as reported by SportBusiness last month. The first-round bid deadline was January 29 and there was a second round of bidding this week.
A direct six-season deal with a broadcaster in Europe is unprecedented for the English top-flight. Traditionally, the league has sold its international broadcast rights in three-season deals. Six-season contracts have been signed outside of Europe, including deals agreed in 2012 in China (with Super Sports Media) and in 2015 in the US market (with NBC).
Announcing the agreement today (Thursday), Nent said that its Viaplay streaming service would be the home of the Premier League coverage. The group also operates the Viasat pay-TV channels and a range of free-to-air channels.
The exact number of matches offered by the Premier League for the new cycle was not defined in the invitation to tender document as the live UK rights inventory for the next cycle has not yet been decided.
However, a range of between 237 and 250 live matches per season was set in the tender, representing an uplift on the 232 matches to which live rights were sold in the Nordics during the current cycle.
Nent sold on non-exclusive Premier League rights in Denmark to YouSee, the television, broadband and mobile arm of Danish telecoms operator TDC, from 2019-20 to 2021-22.
That sublicensing agreement allows YouSee to show 116 matches per season on its Xee channel, a joint-venture with Fox Networks Group. The remaining 116 matches per season are broadcast by Nent’s TV3 channels in Denmark while all 232 live games are streamed on Viaplay.
Anders Jensen, Nent group president and chief executive, described the Premier League rights as “a cornerstone of our sports offering”.
He added: “We have a proven track record of delivering world-class coverage of the Premier League to the large and dedicated fanbase in the Nordics. Our sports teams are ready to take this to the next level in the many years to come. We already broadcast and stream a wide range of sports events but this is a major milestone in the history of our sports coverage.”
Richard Masters, the recently-appointed Premier League chief executive, remarked: “We have a proud and historic relationship with fans in the Nordic region and are delighted that Nordic Entertainment Group has invested in the rights to broadcast the Premier League once again. Through their high-quality coverage and cutting-edge technology, we are confident that over the six seasons of this deal they will make the very best Premier League content available to our passionate fans across the region.”
In going to market with a six-year rights offering, the Premier League was able to take regulatory assurance from the fact that three of the Scandinavian leagues hold six-year broadcast deals domestically. Furthermore, the rights were offered within a competitive ITT process, whereas the direct deals struck 18 months ago with Nent and TV2 were done so without a formal tender.
Within the ITT document, the Premier League specified that it was not seeking responses from “rights agencies or other intermediaries unless such interest is combined with plans to launch a channel or service in the territory(ies) before season 2022-23 begins”.