LONDON: More Premier League matches than ever will be screened live in Britain under the next television deal which went out to tender in the expectation that interest from Aljazeera will take revenues higher than ever.
The Premier League has announced that 154 matches will be shown live on TV each of the three seasons from 2013-14. This is 16 more than currently and more than 40pc of all top-flight games.
A spokesman insisted there was no intention of having fewer matches kicking off at 3pm on Saturdays, when no live screening is permitted, and that the extra 16 games would come from those matches moved to other kick-off times through European club involvement or police advice.
The 154 games will be split into seven packages, compared with the current six. Five packages would comprise 26 matches each along with two packages of 12 matches. No single buyer will be allowed to acquire more than five packages or 116 matches.
Sky and ESPN, which both hold the current rights, are certain to bid along with Aljazeera which has already made major in-roads in France’s football TV market.
A PL statement said: “This creates a more attractive and compelling offering for both broadcasters and fans; whilst allowing the continued protection of the Saturday 3pm ‘closed window’ and minimising further displacement of Premier League fixtures.”
A separate sales process will be conducted for two “near live” long form packages each containing 226 matches and an internet-based clips package for all 380 matches.
Sky currently broadcasts 115 matches live per season, having paid £1.623bn for its five packages. ESPN holds a single package of 23 matches, kicking off early Saturday evenings.
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