Sky and BT will pay a total of £4.46bn for five packages of lives games for three seasons from 2019/20, less than the £5.14bn value of the current deal with two smaller packages still to be sold. Tony McDonough reports
Is the era of dramatic rises in the value football TV rights deals coming to an end? That is the question after the latest sale of English Premier League (EPL) rights to Sky and BT came in at £4.46bn – less than the £5.14bn value of the current deal.
That was for five packages totalling 160 games a season for the three seasons from 2019/20. There are two packages still unsold offering a total of 40 games a season but it has been suggested they had failed to reach their reserve price.
The current deal which runs until season 2018/19 was a massive 70% increase on the previous deal of £3.01 so this latest deal, announced after a five-day bidding process, is sure to be a major disappointment for the EPL.
If this decline in value were to continue it would raise questions marks over the sustainability of the current model which has seen clubs, including Liverpool and Everton, splurge huge sums on players.
And for Everton is could also raise question marks over the viability of its plans for a new stadium in Liverpool’s northern docklands to replace Goodison Park. Liverpool City Council is proposing to lend the club £280m towards the likely £500m cost of the arena at Bramley Moore Dock.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson says the deal is a win-win as the city could earn a £7m-a-year profit from the repayment of the loan over 25 years. But Everton’s ability to repay the money depends on rising revenue streams.
The bulk of those revenues come from the TV rights. Last season the Blues earned £130m. The new deal will not see any significant fall in revenues but its failure to keep on increasing throws a question mark over the value of future rights agreements.
Sky, which has been bankrolling the EPL since 1992, will pay £3.58m for 128 Premier League games a season from 2019/20. It will spend £9.3m a game – 16% less than the current deal. BT will pay £885m to show 32 games a season, at £9.2m a game.
The EPL says there are still multiple bidders interested in the remaining two packages. It had hoped Silicon Valley tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook would significantly push up the value but that doesn’t appear to have happened.
EPL chairman Richard Scudamore was upbeat on the deal, saying: “To have achieved this investment with two packages of live rights remaining to sell is an outcome that is testament to the excellent football competition delivered by the clubs.”