Premier League to cash in on TV windfall

New rights deal with Sky proves top flight remains immune to credit crunch

Recession? What recession? The Premier League last night appeared to be on the brink of declaring itself effectively immune to the direst effects of the global economic downturn when it struck another lucrative TV deal with BSkyB for live British TV rights for three seasons from 2010.
The Independent understands that the deal – for four rights' packages of six available – is worth close to the £1.3bn the broadcaster paid for its current rights, for 2007-10.

The importance of the rights' sale cannot be overstated. In short, huge TV income equals big-name players on big wages, competitiveness in Europe, and success by various definitions.

Last time Sky paid £1.314bn for four packages. Each then comprised 23 games, with the most expensive a prime-choice package of 4pm Sunday games, with the rest a mixture of midweek evenings, bank holidays and Saturdays. The League announced last night that BSkyB had been awarded four of six available packages of rights again, without detailing the games.

No figures for the new deal will be confirmed until the bidding process has been concluded for the remaining two packages, but industry sources believe the rights values overall have held up. "It looks like Sky have got the same four packages that they got last time, and for a similar price," one source said.

Another source said: "It was always obvious that Sky would be at the forefront of the bidding because live Premier League football remains core to Sky's business.

"Even with the tough economic climate, it was never going to make sense for Sky to bid much lower, or indeed any lower than last time, because by definition that would lead to them potentially damaging a key product.

"Sky's investment in the Premier League has been important to the League's growth and success over the years. The football remains very important for Sky. So why would Sky do anything to damage that?"

If the proceedings required a note of intrigue above and beyond confirmation of precisely what Sky has paid, it was added with the announcement that the remaining two packages of live British rights will go to a second round of bidding "in due course."

Under the current deal (2007-10), the Ireland-based pay-TV operator Setanta owns the rights to the two packages not held by Sky, and it is believed that Setanta again made a competitive bid for the same packages for 2010-13. But it is not certain whether Setanta's bid matched the £392m it paid for two packages last time, nor whether Setanta had any rival bidders.

It was widely anticipated that the Disney-owned American sports network ESPN would enter the market for UK rights, and a second round of bidding for the remaining packages can mean only one of three things.

Either the rights did not attract much competition at all, and therefore did not meet an undisclosed "reserve price" that the Premier League is able to set, and thus the League has opening a second round of bidding to squeeze out higher bids.

Scenario two is that Setanta had a serious rival, and the respective offers from the bidding broadcasters were within 10 per cent of each other in value. If that was the case, the League – or more specifically its chief executive, Richard Scudamore – would have ordered that the bidding companies re-submit their offers.

Scenario three is that Setanta and ESPN were bidding together, or rather that one firm was fronting a bid on behalf of both in anticipation of some kind of partnership or merger, and there were unsubstantiated suggestions this was causing delays. However, one source told The Independent this was not the case, and suggested that ESPN had not made a serious bid at all. Some of ESPN's key executives scheduled this week to take part of their annual leave, which hardly suggests they were preparing for the celebration of the acquisition of a share of the most valuable sports rights anywhere on the planet outside of America's NFL.

As The Independent revealed at the time, the League sent out its tender documents for the rights back in December. Interested parties had until 11am yesterday morning to submit their sealed bids to the City offices of the accountants KPMG, where Scudamore and his team of rights' sellers from the League spend much of yesterday pouring over the fine print of the offers and weighing up the bids.

The League made £2.7bn from all media rights for the seasons 2007-10, £1.7bn from live domestic rights (£1.3bn from Sky, £0.4bn from Setanta), £650m from overseas rights and the balance from highlights deals including with the BBC for Match of the Day, which was renegotiated last week for 2010-13 at a marginally higher price than 2007-10.

Recession? What recession?

1.3

Value of new deal believed agreed with BSkyB in billions of pounds.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits