Premiership rights auction might suit BSkyB
The proposed shape of the next Premier League rights auction, to cover the three seasons from 2013, may suit BSkyB. ITV is likely to welcome the proposals which also open up new opportunities for Silicon Valley companies.
BSkyB currently has five of the six packets of 23 matches into which the Premier League has divided the rights to live games. The part News International owned company had been concerned that in order to allow more companies to get involved in the auction process the Premier League would split the live rights into 12 or 13 packets. The proposals actually outlined would reduce BSkyB's maximum share from 83 to 75 per cent, but that would still be a dominant position in marketing terms.
The number of live broadcasts each season would increase by 12 per cent which does run the risk of viewer fatigue and diminishing audiences for less attractive games. In all 154 matches would be available, split into five packets of 26 matches and two of 12. The most any one broadcaster could buy would be 116 matches, or four large and one small packet.
Companies will also be able to bid for the right to show the remaining 226 games of the season as 'near live', beginning at 8.30 p.m. for afternoon kick offs. These games would be available for traditional forms of broadcasting but also for on demand services which should appeal to companies such as Google and Apple. Both of them need attractive content for internet-based video services they plan to launch and what could be better than football?
The provision of two half size packets could be aimed at ITV which has been lobbying the Premier League to give it live matches to complement its Champions League and international games offer.
Both live and near-live rights will be sold on a technologically neutral basis so that the auction winners would have the right to exploit broadcasts on television, over the internet and on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This approach may produce a legal challenge from smaller companies who had been hoping to pick up small packets of mobile and internet rights.
Taken as a whole the packages should seem some increase in Premier League income after taking account of inflation.