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Premier League invites six-year Nordics rights bids in landmark European move

Broadcasters in the Nordic region have been invited to bid for English Premier League rights over six seasons, from 2022-23 to 2027-28, as well as across the hitherto standard length of three seasons, SportBusiness understands.

The Premier League issued its invitation to tender document in the Nordic region on 2 January, and, within the ITT, it is understood that broadcasters have been asked to submit separate offers for a three-season and six-season term.

A direct six-year deal with a broadcaster in Europe – should it come to pass – would be unprecedented for the English top-flight. Traditionally, the league has sold its international broadcast rights in three-year deals. Exceptions to that rule include the six-year contracts agreed in 2012 in China (with Super Sports Media) and in 2015 in the US market (with NBC).

Media company Nordic Entertainment (Nent) Group holds the Premier League rights in Denmark, Finland and Sweden from 2019-20 to 2021-22. Commercial broadcaster TV2 has held the Premier League rights in Norway over the last four cycles (since 2010-11).

The exact number of matches offered by the Premier League from 2022-23 onwards has not been defined given the live UK rights inventory for the next cycle has not yet been decided.

However, a range of between 237 and 250 live matches is understood to have been specified in the tender, an analysis of which will be published tomorrow in SportBusiness Media. The range represents an uplift on the 232 matches to which live rights were sold in the Nordics during the current cycle.

In going to market with a (potential) six-year rights offering, the Premier League will be able to take regulatory assurance from the fact that three of the Scandinavian leagues hold six-year broadcast deals domestically. Furthermore, the rights are being 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.

In kicking off with its first market of the next international rights cycle, the Premier League is looking to maintain a direct relationship with a broadcaster or broadcasters in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The Premier League has specified that it is 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”.

Rights are offered on a technology-neutral basis and bids must be lodged by January 29.

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.

The Premier League’s international rights income rose by 35 per cent in the 2019-22 cycle with the process generating a combined three-season total of over £4.2bn (€4.9bn/$5.5bn). The sterling value was inflated, however, given the decline against both the euro and the US dollar.