Virgin Media’s Chief Executive Tom Mockridge has called on the Premier League to show all 380 matches live on television, suggesting US-style regional blackouts could be used as an ideal compromise to current broadcasting rules.
The Premier League argues that keeping the 3pm blackout window on Saturday games helps to safeguard attendances in lower league football, a view widely backed by supporters groups.
But Virgin has already voiced its displeasure at the current rules.
The provider has already filed a complaint with regulator Ofcom, arguing that prices are kept artificially high by the Premier League only making 41% of matches available to broadcasters, adding that it also restricts choice for consumers.
Mockridge points to other countries such as Germany, as well as the NBA and the NFL in the US, as potential templates for broadcasting live games, with fans often able to watch all games or purchase a pass that allows them to follow their own team.
He added the current set-up was not doing enough to curb rates of inflation in the market, stating that 77% of Virgin customers now believe Sky Sports and BT Sport to be too expensive.
Mockridge insists that making all matches available live would help to put the brakes on further inflation, even if it fails to bring prices down.
He said: “Consumers are entitled to make their own choices rather than have other people make them for them.
“The Premier League argues there is a consumer benefit in limiting the number of matches. We would argue the opposite,” he continued.
“I am not criticising the Premier League. Richard Scudamore has done a terrific job for them but it’s up to Ofcom to act as the referee. Their primary aim is to protect the consumer. What is the consumer benefit in only showing 40% of the games on TV?”
Addressing the opposition to dropping the 3pm blackout, which has primarily been led by lower league clubs over fears it will hit attendances, Mockridge suggests giving smaller teams a greater proportion of the Premier League’s television money, while also introducing technology that would stop fans, for example, in Manchester watching Manchester United instead of Bury.