As the battle over sports rights heats up in Australia the Murdoch linked Sky Sports has agreed to pay A$6Billion for a three-year deal to show 128 English Premier League soccer matches a season from 2019/20, less than it paid for its current broadcast deal. Its four packs of rights total 128 games a season, up from 126 matches now.
"Not only do we remain the home of Premier League football but also the home of top quality drama, entertainment, comedy and other sports", Stephen van Rooyen, Sky's United Kingdom chief executive, said in a statement after Tuesday's auction.
Package F (featuring 20 matches from one bank holiday programme and one midweek fixture programme) and package G (20 matches from two midweek fixture programmes) are still up for grabs, with neither BT, nor Sky, planning a bid.
Three years ago, Sky and BT Sport paid a combined £5.14bn to cover 168 games per season, an astonishing 72 per cent rise on the previous auction.
Sky has extended its Premier League rights through to 2022 and will show more matches than ever before.
The five packages totalling 160 matches...
If the tech firms do jump in, there might be an opportunity for United Kingdom fans to watch at least some live games without paying BT or Sky.
Seven packages were up for sale, with Sky Sports taking four so far and BT Sport landing another. It's the first time in 15 years that the per-game price has declined, signaling a more rational approach by the broadcasters after years of rampant price inflation.
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While the Premier League increased the number of games available for live broadcasting in Britain to 200, only overseas channels are able to air all 380 fixtures per season live in order to protect stadium attendances.
In total BT will show 32 Saturday games per season, down from 42 now, and will pay £295m per season, down from the £320m it agreed last time.
BT Sport - who are believed to have been outbid by Sky on each package - have received one as it is against auction regulations to claim five of the main packs.
Sky boasted that it "remains the home of Premier League football".
"We are extremely pleased that BT and Sky continue to view the Premier League and our clubs as such an important part of their offering,"?Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore said in a statement on the Premier League website.
A spokesperson for BT said the company "remained financially disciplined during this process and remains in a strong position to make a return on this investment through subscription, wholesale, commercial and advertising revenues".