Telecoms giant BT has secured the rights to broadcast 38 live Premier League games next year, at the expense of U.S sports network ESPN.
ESPN were the current holders of the rights, but have seemingly been beaten to the punch by BT along with Al Jazeera, who were also thought to have made a bid.
The U.S sports network originally secured the games after the collapse of Setanta Sports and then used the purchase as a springboard for their expansion into the UK.
An ESPN spokesman said about the failed bid: “We made a strong bid that reflected the value of the rights to our business, and we thank the Premier League for the chance to participate.”
Instead of broadcasting the 46 games that ESPN had, BT will only get the broadcast license for 38 games, including 16 top tier games.
This means BSKYB will have an eye-watering 154 live matches from the next season – which is up by 16 compared to last year. What isn’t clear is how you will be able to view the games BT now has the rights.
It’s thought that BT will show the games on their own IPTV service Open Vision and a new football focused channel – but what about Sky or Freeview viewers?
BT confirmed in statement that they plan to make the games available on a new channel and are open to working with other platforms. A spokesman from BT confirmed: “We will offer new interactive features when supplied over BT’s fibre network and we will look to distribute it on other platforms.”
It’s been disclosed that BT spent £246m per season for the broadcast rights, while BSKYB paid £760m a year – up from £514m which they paid for the current deal.
In total, the Premier League is set to gain over £3 billion for television rights and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore revealed that the thrilling climax to the recent season, when Manchester City won the title in injury time on the last day, contributed to the increase in price.