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Sky director defends Premier League rights investment

Sky corporate affairs director Graham McWilliam has defended the UK pay-television broadcaster’s decision to pay a significant increase in its rights fee for live domestic coverage of football’s English Premier League.

Sky will pay an increase of more than 80 per cent in its rights fee over the next three-year cycle, from 2016-17 to 2018-19, committing a total of £4.176bn (€5.5m/$6.3m) over the cycle for 126 matches per year through five packages. Pay-television broadcaster BT Sport will pay an average of £320m per year for 42 games in the other two packages.

“Only one company achieved all its objectives in auction,” McWilliam said on his Twitter account. “Post-rationalisation by the runners up can't change that! Twice BT tried to muscle in and take PL rights from us. Twice Sky won max no of games. Blind auctions not for faint hearted.”

He added: “Comparison of price paid ignores huge value gap. Super Sunday and MNF [Monday Night Football] are big prizes. Friday night fantastic addition to squad. Sky went in hard to get the result. Yes, paid big. That's what it takes. We can and will absorb it.”

BT Sport has dislodged Sky as the rights-holder for the Uefa Champions League for three seasons, from 2015-16 to 2017-18, but McWilliam added that it was the “right decision” for Sky not to chase the Champions League and prioritise the Premier League.

He added: “£300m only guarantees 26 matches with British teams. Premier League matters more to fans.”