The English Premier League is inviting bids in the Nordic region for broadcast rights from the 2022-23 season onwards.
In going to market in its first market for 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.
Upon making the invitation to tender documents available yesterday (Thursday), the Premier League said 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 29 January.
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).
Nent has retained and won a wide range of sports rights since being spun off from the Modern Times Group, including rights from a summer spending spree in 2018 ahead of its listing on the Nasdaq Stockholm stock exchange in 2019.
However, the broadcaster last month took a SEK700m (€65.5m/$73m) one-off charge in the fourth quarter relating to job cuts and write-downs of free-to-air television content as it continues a move to a new operating model with a renewed focus on its Viaplay streaming platform.
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 steamed on Viaplay.
The Premier League has not specified the number of seasons for which the rights are available in the Nordic countries. Rights in Europe were sold for three-season terms (2019-20 to 2021-22) during the last sales process.
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.
The league’s preference for a direct broadcaster relationship comes with the IMG agency having been met with particular challenges in the Nordic market in recent seasons.
IMG launched Strive Sport, a subscription OTT service, to showcase LaLiga and Serie A after rejecting rights bids from broadcasters. Rights were ultimately sold to broadcasters in Sweden and Denmark last year, but the OTT platform continues to operate in Norway.