And so the dust has settled on another Premier League TV rights auction. The big players Sky and BT have once again shown themselves as the big two when it comes to broadcasting the world’s hottest league. But there were some surprises in store, too.
Namely, that the rights have cost less than expected. And the big US tech firms are yet to make their entrance. At time of writing, anyway.
The latest auction covers three seasons starting with 2019/2020 until 2021/2022. Here’s where you'll be able to see live games.
1 Sky has the most games
In keeping with the current deal, Sky will show the most games. It has bought the rights to 128 live matches a season, which is two more than under the current deal.
In Premier League parlance, Sky has bought four 'tranches' of games. There were seven tranches for sale, five comprising 32 matches a season, and two comprising 20 matches a season.
Sky has 32 matches on Saturdays at 5:30pm, 24 matches on Sundays at 2pm and eight on Saturdays at 7:45pm, 32 on Sundays at 4:30pm, 24 on Mondays at 8pm or Fridays at 7:30/8pm, and another eight matches on Sundays at 2pm.
Sky's tranches each consist of 32 games a season.
2 BT got a fair few too
BT bought one tranche, giving it the live rights to 32 matches a season.
For this, it will pay £295 million a season. That works out as £9.22 million per match, which is up from the £7.6 million it currently pays.
All BT’s 32 matches are on Saturdays at 12:30pm.
Here's a table breaking down the distribution of games.
|Package name||Winner||What's included|
|Package A||BT||32 matches on Saturdays at 12:30|
|Package B||Sky Sports||32 matches on Saturdays at 17:30|
|Package C||Sky Sports||24 matches on Sundays at 14:00, eight matches on Saturdays at 19:45|
|Package D||Sky Sports||32 matches on Sundays at 16:30|
|Package E||Sky Sports||24 matches on Mondays at 20:00 or Fridays at 19:30/20:00, eight matches on Sundays at 14:00|
|Package F||TBC||20 matches from one Bank Holiday and one midweek fixture programme|
|Package G||TBC||20 matches from two midweek fixture programmes|
3 Both could still buy more games
But it's not over yet. Two tranches (each comprising 20 matches spread between midweek and bank holidays) remain to be sold.
BT has said it will "continue to engage" with the Premier League over these. Sky hasn't made any comment on whether it will try to buy more.
But each broadcaster is limited to a maximum of 148 matches, so Sky could only buy one of the two available packages.
Both broadcasters have announced their deals, however. So its quite unlikely either will buy any more, unless something goes horribly wrong with the other bidders.
4 But so could Amazon, Twitter or Facebook
No one knows who the other bidders are. But rumours are afoot that Californian tech firms will try to muscle in on the action.
Amazon, Twitter and Facebook are thought to be the frontrunners, because of their recent pushes into original video content and live sports coverage.
Though Netflix's name has also been mentioned.
The latter is unlikely, however. It hasn't invested in any live sports of late, so chances are it will swerve the auction and keep pumping cash into original dramas, comedies, documentaries and stand-up specials.
5 It raised less money than the last auction
So far, the auction has raised £4.464 billion. That's an eye-watering amount of money, but actually less than the current deal's £5.14 billion.
While two tranches are yet to sell, the auction is unlikely to exceed its predecessor in terms of value.
In fact, the two remaining tranches may have not sold because bidders failed to meet their reserve price (the minimum price the Premier League set, just like it’s flogging them on eBay).
This is in stark contrast to recent years. The fierce rivalry between Sky and BT saw the auction's value shoot up by 70 per cent in the past two deals.
The boom may well be over. But with anonymous bidders yet to play their hand, there's still everything to play for, as a football commentator would say.