LONDON: Sky, finding itself effectively imprisoned by competition, is to pay an astonishing further record £3.01bn for the Premier League football rights over the three-year ‘TV season’ from 2013-16. This is a 70pc increase over the current record deal worth £1.78bn.

Sky has bought five of the seven packages on offer but its surprise partner for the other two is British Telecom, replacing ESPN and stepping in where it had been thought the rapidly-expanding Aljazeera network might gain a toehold in the British TV football market.

The size of the sums underline how football in general and the Premier League in particular continues to defy apparent financial logic in a climate of economic austerity. 

BT’s entry onto the scene emphaseses the multi-platform technology future envisaged by broadcasters and marketeers alike andwhich represents a long-term threat to Sky’Premier League command since Rupert Murdoch’s now hugely-successful company is very much pigeon-holed as a broadcaster rather than a pan-tech operator.

The lurking presence around the hugely valuable and popular Premier League of an increasing number of major companies from all corners of the communications industry left Sky with no option but to run to keep ahead of the competition.

Sources at BT have said that it is paying £246m per season which it will exploit through a football-focused TV channel of its own. An alternative would have been to partner with an established broadcaster.

The new deal does not count in the sums to be generated from overseas sales and confirms that Sky does not believe its revenue-generating systems are threatened in any way by the complexities concerning territorial restrictions as highlighted by the ‘Portsmouth pub’ ruling in the European Court.

A statement from the Premier League itemised how the seven packages – five of 26 matches and two of 12 matches – totalling 154 matches were awarded:

BSkyB has secured packages B, C, D, E and F totalling 116 matches;

BT has secured packages A and G totalling 38 matches.

It added: “The overall value delivered for the seven packages following the structured and independently scrutinised sales process is £3.018bn.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “The Barclays Premier League continues to provide excellent football and enthralling drama as we saw last season. The value this drives for our rightsholders is evident and we are extremely pleased that this has been realised for our UK live rights.

“As ever, the security provided by broadcast revenues will enable our clubs to continue to invest in all aspects of their football activities and plan sustainably for the foreseeable future. This deal allows them to keep delivering what fans want; top quality football in some of world’s best club stadia and an increasing focus on and commitment to areas such as Youth Development.

“The continuing support of BSkyB for Premier League football is significant beyond the revenues delivered; the longevity and quality of their commitment has done much for the English game as a whole. We are very happy to see this relationship maintained for another three seasons.

“We welcome BT as a new Premier League broadcast partner. They are a substantial British company that is at the leading edge of technology and infra-structure development. They are clearly investing in quality content to use on their platforms and when combined with the reach and pull of Premier League football they will deliver new ways in which fans will be able to follow the competition.

“These are exciting times for both the football and media worlds and we should all be proud of the value both industries contribute to the UK culturally and economically.

“I would also like to place on record the Premier League’s thanks to the numerous other highly credible bidders that showed such interest in the live UK rights.”

European Commission regulations mean 116 matches is the maximum amount any one broadcaster can acquire.

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