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Premier League ‘makes extra matches available’ for 2020-21, but no free-to-air

The Premier League has reportedly decided to make an extra 20 matches available to its domestic broadcast partners for the forthcoming 2020-21 season, but has no plans for free-to-air coverage amid Covid-19.

The Premier League today (Thursday) released the fixture list for the 2020-21 campaign, but the Daily Mail said top division clubs have opted against having every game televised, as occurred for the finale of last season, amid concerns from broadcasters that they would struggle to accommodate the content in their schedules.

Pilot events to test the safe return of spectators to English sporting venues resumed at the weekend with the finale of the World Snooker Championship, but at present fans will be prevented from attending Premier League games until October at the earliest.

With this in mind, the League is said to have agreed to share an extra 20 games between pay-television broadcasters Sky and BT Sport, along with streaming service Amazon Prime. The Mail said Sky Sports will now show an additional 12 games, BT Sport six and Amazon Prime two.

A number of clubs were said to have sought backing to stream non-televised matches on their websites using the iFollow platform developed by the English Football League. However, this proposal was reportedly blocked by Sky, BT and Amazon.

The Mail adds that the Premier League’s broadcast partners have also ensured that no games will be shown free-to-air in the 2020-21 campaign. In May, it was announced that public broadcaster the BBC would show four live Premier League matches for the 2019-20 restart.

While the BBC has generally been the Premier League’s domestic highlights rights-holder since its inception, the broadcaster had never before shown a live match. Indeed, it was the first time the BBC had shown any live top-tier English league football since the 1987-88 season.

Each of the remaining 92 Premier League matches for 2019-20 were broadcast live across Sky Sports, BT Sport, the BBC and Amazon Prime. Sky, which holds the bulk of the league’s live rights in the 2019-22 cycle, broadcast 64 of the remaining 92 matches. It made 25 matches in its quota available to free-to-air digital terrestrial viewers through its PickTV channel.

Telco BT showed 20 matches, up from the eight it had originally been due to broadcast. Amazon had rights to four additional matches. It exclusively showed two match weeks earlier in the season as part of its existing Premier League deal.