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Premier League rights auction enters second round

The auction for the next cycle of domestic live rights to English football’s Premier League has entered a second round of bidding with reports suggesting that there were no clear winners for any of the live packages on offer over three seasons, from 2016-17 to 2018-19, in the first round.

Reports said that pay-television broadcasters Sky and BT Sport, the incumbent rights-holders, are likely to have been challenged by newcomers, including Discovery Communications, the parent company of pan-European broadcaster Eurosport, and global pay-television broadcaster beIN Media Group.

The Telegraph newspaper said that there was “no sign” that any of the seven packages, totalling 168 games, had been awarded on Friday, when the league started considering the initial bids.

This suggestion of competitive bids from multiple media companies for all of the packages is supported by the fact that the winners of certain rights in previous auctions were announced by the league relatively quickly.

The newspaper added that the second round of the auction is likely to take place on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Sources told the Financial Times newspaper that there was no prospect of any formal announcement at this stage, with the league set to hold off until bidding for all seven available packages has been concluded.

The newspaper added that the bidders will not be told whether they are in the lead in the process, or what their rivals have offered. The league has not set a maximum number of rounds, the report said.

Prior to the auction, analyst forecasts for the price increase for live domestic rights ranged from 15 per cent to 60-70 per cent, with consensus being about 30-40 per cent. The rights are currently worth just over £1bn (€1.33bn/$1.5bn) per season.

Some investors expected Sky to lose at least one of its five packages. No company can acquire more than five packages of rights.