One of the most popular and exciting soccer leagues in the world has agreed to allow more games to be shown on television.
The English Premier League’s media rights are up for tender later this year, and in a bid to entice greater offers from broadcasters, the 20 clubs have voted on – and agreed – to increase the amount of action that can be shown.
That’s great news for soccer fans, who will soon be able to enjoy more live games on the sofa than ever before.
Everyone’s a Winner
The importance of a strong ecosystem in the beautiful game cannot be underestimated.
In England, the Premier League trickles down finances to clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two – crucial to their long-term survival. The sale of media rights is a key component of those payments.
Fans who cannot attend games are also engaged in live TV games, which helps to increase the sales of merchandise and other revenue streams.
For those who bet on football, being able to watch the teams play can provide a greater insight – their wagers on the Premier League title race, which sees Manchester City as the -274 favorite ahead of Liverpool (+600) and Arsenal (+700), will be informed by what they see on screen.
Those who bet on Champions League soccer won’t experience any changes – the TV rights have been locked down by CBS in a $1.5 billion deal until 2031 at the earliest.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) September 28, 2023
Ultimately, more soccer on TV is good news for many different stakeholders of the Premier League, so the upcoming auction for the media rights will be watched with interest.
Will Amazon Deliver?
In the UK, two broadcasters – Sky Sports and BT Sport (now known as TNT Sports following a merger with Paramount) – have had an effective monopoly on the Premier League TV rights for over a decade.
But the erosion of that power has begun, with Amazon Prime throwing its considerable financial muscle behind a plan to poach as many games as possible for its own platform.
It was back in 2019 that Amazon picked up its first package of live games – they showed ten in all during December of that year via its streaming platform. And the broadcasts were considered to be a huge success: the company reported that they had enjoyed record numbers of sign-ups to Prime thanks to the interest of soccer fans in watching the action.
It’s no secret that Amazon chiefs have been very keen to entice as many Prime subscribers as possible; evidently, live soccer will be central to that ambition going forward.
The good news for them is that more live games will be up for auction as part of the Premier League’s revised tender, which will kick in during 2025 and last for as long as four EPL seasons.
It’s the first time in six years that EPL chiefs have put their media rights up for sale in the UK, with the likelihood being that more games will be moved away from the 15:00 GMT timeslot on Saturdays – the blackout on showing live soccer at that time, which was introduced to help improve attendances at lower-league matches, will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
How much live soccer will be moved to Amazon Prime will be confirmed when the tendering process comes to an end later in 2023.
How Will Soccer Fans in America Be Affected?
The answer is not a great deal – for now, at least.
For the time being, NBC will retain the rights to broadcast Premier League games in the United States – an extension to their existing deal which will carry them through until the end of the 2027/28 season at the earliest.
The broadcaster paid around $2.7 billion for the exclusivity agreement, so they were happy to splash out to retain the sole rights to the EPL and ward off any competitors.
— The Verge (@verge) July 30, 2023
However, that intent will be tested once again when the next round of tenders is due in 2025 for the subsequent rights packages. Tech giant Apple paid $2.5 billion for ten-year exclusivity to stream Major League Soccer action – a deal thought to have been key to Lionel Messi’s move to Inter Miami.
Apple definitely have the financial muscle to afford the Premier League TV rights in North America, so watch this space for an epic battle that could unfold in the near future.