In Depth

Premier League live rights: new TV deal could raise £5.5bn

Second round of bidding could see broadcasters pay an average of almost £11m per live game

TV companies could end up paying almost £11m a game to show live Premier League football, as a second round of bidding in the live TV rights auction threatens to smash the £5bn barrier.

There were no winners in the battle to buy up the seven different packages of games in the first round on Friday, with reports suggesting that Sky could even lose control of its trademark 4pm Sunday slot and rumours of multiple new bidders entering the fray. The next round of bidding takes place today.

The Premier League is auctioning off the rights to show 168 games per season, with the deal set to run for three seasons from 2016. The last auction in 2012 raised £3bn, but with more broadcasters interested and both current rights holders anxious to retain or expand their portfolios the cost could be as much as £5.5bn.

If the rights raise more than £5bn it will mean each game over the three year period has cost the broadcaster more than £10m to buy. The average cost per game will rise to £10.8m if the rights sell for £5.5bn.

"Friday's stalemate, which was in stark contrast to the last auction when two packages were sold in round one, would indicate that not only was every package subject to more than one bid but that Sky Sports and BT Sport were probably not the only broadcasters involved," says the Daily Telegraph.

In addition to Sky and BT Sport, the Discovery Channel, which owns British Eurosport, is thought to have made an offer, along with "mega-rich" Qatar-based company BeIN Sports.

"A combination of multiple bids and all seven packages still being available would represent the dream scenario for Premier League clubs, who were already expecting a healthy increase on the £3.018bn windfall from the last auction," adds the paper.

The deal is likely to extend football's "golden age", says Dan Roan of the BBC. "The way we watch television is becoming more fragmented and we consume more content online. So live sport – and its ability to retain large audiences – is becoming more important for broadcasters, telecoms providers and advertisers," he explains.

However, the sale price looks likely to far exceed what analysts regard as a "sensible" price, reports Television Business International. Guy Bisson of Ampere Analysis said £4bn would be a reasonable sum for the rights, but added: "In the world of European sport, the Premier League is the ultimate luxury brand. As such, it is hardly surprising that there is a disconnect between price and direct value... as we've seen recently in the art world, prices paid at auction have a habit of surpassing even the most bullish of predictions."

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