‘Premier League Compass’ is a semi-regular column on TheHardTackle that throws a magnifying glass over clubs other than the (made up) ‘super six’. In this edition, the compass points in the direction of the League itself that has made huge hubbub after securing TV deals of worth £3bn for the next three years.
Last month BT emerged as the new secondary broadcasting powerhouse in England changing the landscape of British broadcasting after they secured the rights to telecast live English Premier League games for the first time boosting BPL’s next TV deal to staggering value of £3bn over three years.
Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB which has forged an ‘empire’ over 20 years on the backdrop of the live telecast of top flight football, retained majority of the rights and will telecast 116 matches per season paying £760m a year.
As it stands out, a total of 154 Premier League matches will be broadcasted, 16 more than last season with a sales increase of £1.25bn on the current package that shares rights between Sky and ESPN.
Premier League clubs will receive at least £14m more yearly from this point on while broadcasters will pay £6.6m for each televised match.
The newcomer BT which replaced ESPN from the market will be paying £736m for 38 games per season over the course of three years.
The below graph depicts the chronological development of private broadcasting since the inception of Premier League in 1992-93.
English Premier League
OK, so let’s understand the complex thing in a simple way. In total there are seven packages of rights available and the highest bidder gets the maximum packages. The packages are basically the slots when the games are shown. Sky has got five such packages while BT bagged two under their name.
So, what are these packages, rather when are the schedules? We all know you can’t watch the 3’0 clock kick off in any UK channels. Online streaming can be another solution though.
Package A will contain 26 games starting at 12.45pm on Saturdays and BT has got 13 first pick for it. It is to be noted that neither Sky, nor BT can feature a team more than five times in a season.
Package B goes to Sky that will feature 26 games starting from 5.30 kick off Saturday and some lunch time actions on Sundays. Package C (26 games in a season) contain games featuring on Sundays between 1.30 to 2.05 pm.
Sunday 4pm is an important TV time slot and Sky has bagged 20 first pick for it. Sky will also show Monday 8pm and Saturday 5.30pm kick offs. BT concludes the package system by taking the midweek evening slots and two Saturday games starting at 12.45pm.
Concept Of First Pick
Out of 154 games that are supposed to be broadcasted, Sky will telecast 116 matches while BT will show remaining 38. And there are 38 rounds of PL games.
Now, Sky has got 20 first picks of games starting on Sunday 4’o clock while BT will show 13 first picks for Saturday 12.45pm and five others in midweek evenings and Bank Holidays mostly.
Put simply, first picks mean the finest games of any rounds. That means Sky will get first peak in 20 such rounds while BT will get 18 top games to show.
However this is not as simple as ABC. In Package D which Sky has bought for £642m has 26 games, and out of which 20 are first picks. Now Sky has paid extra money to make sure that they get to choose which 20 weekends they will apply for those picks.
In such cases, Sky can easily snaffle away the best of the best games. However, that does not mean BT won’t be able to show top games too. Since, in any package a team can feature only five times and minimum one, hence, it can very well happen that BT might end up showing any of the top six teams featuring against each other.
BT Has Surprised Everyone
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was taken aback by such deals. Speaking to BBC he said “It would be wrong of me to say it didn’t take me by surprise, yes, because the nature of this is a confidential process, it’s a sealed bid process and we only know what people are likely [to bid]“
“People never declare to us ever what they’re going to bid and we don’t ever ask them. And therefore clearly there is an element of surprise in this.“
However, BT was the real surprise. The users of BT know very well that how they mess up everything when any person tries to change their location while keeping the number same. And they are traditionally not associated with football. Why have they entered the race at the first place? Secondly, once entered how they will manage to broadcast the games as they are primarily a telecom industry.
According to BT, they would launch a “new football-focused channel” while Scudamore spoke highly of the telecom firm saying they would “deliver new ways in which fans will be able to follow the competition”.
BT – A Gamble? Think Again!
Many might think that BT is taking a huge gamble here. However, actually, they are taking a calculated risk. Through Premier League, they will sell their other products too like Broadband, Land Lines, Mobiles and TV packages. They will persuade the users that as a package, they are simply the best. In this way, they will tuck up more customers and subsequently revenues.
And talk about revenue last year they amassed huge revenue of 19bn with a profit of 2bn. So, they have the funds. It’s a strategic decision that is simply not concentrated on football.
“BT is already investing £2.5bn in fibre broadband. Securing Premier League rights fits naturally with this, as consumers increasingly want to buy their broadband and entertainment services from a single provider.” – BT’s CEO Ian Livingston was quoted as saying by the Sporting Intelligence.
How BT Will Telecast?
Primarily, they will launch a sport channel where the games will be shown. However, they will carry it on various other platforms too.
Nothing is confirmed yet, but they will highly be doing the alike which Sky is doing right now. Like Sky Go, where one can watch the game through mobile, laptop, PC, tablets, BT might do the same thing.
People can subscribe to BT along with their Sky packages. They can easily subscribe to BT Vision at better rates. The telecom farm hasn’t made any concrete decision so far regarding the cost, but one can expect to pay more for the BT channels alone if they are currently subscribed to other platforms. Rather the cost might be effective if they switch on to BT platform for other services.