The next round of negotiations for Premier League rights on home soil may include more matches and fewer packages to bid on.
The Telegraph reports that the English top flight league may increase the amount of matches available to broadcasters from 200 to over 260, and may actually reduce the amount of packages for broadcasters to bid on from seven to as few as four.
The last Premier League media rights deal in the UK, announced in the summer of 2018 for the 2019-22 seasons and rolled over to 2022-25 during the summer of 2021, made seven packages of 200 matches available to broadcasters. Sky won the bidding to four packages and 128 matches, while BT Sport claimed a pair of packages and 52 matches. Amazon entered the fray by winning the bidding for one package of 20 matches.
The 3 PM Saturday blackout will also reportedly be protected in the next round of media rights deals, meaning that the extra available matches will likely be pulled from that window and slid into different time slots. Yeah, the window will still be be protected, but there will likely be 60 or so fewer matches in the window, taking place elsewhere over the weekend. Broadcasters would then be able to bid on that package, receiving access to games that would once be unavailable at 3 PM Saturday.
I actually think that reducing the number of packages could make sense. The seven matches vary in size from 15 to 32 matches, each consisting of a different time slot or window. I’m just spitballing, but putting all Saturday matches in one package and all Sunday matches in another might make things a bit easier, instead of breaking them up by timeslot (12:30 Saturday, 17:30 Saturday, etc).
The downside to reducing the amount of packages is that new broadcasters looking to enter the space, like Amazon, wouldn’t have the ability to get their feet wet with a smaller, less expensive package. This would seemingly apply to Apple, rumored earlier this year to be interested in the next round of Premier League rights.
This deal won’t impact the Premier League’s rights in the US. Incumbent rightsholders NBC Sports and Telemundo signed a multi-year extension in 2021 that keeps them as the American partners of the Premier League through the 2027-28 season. However, if the extra available matches are put into new timeslots, they could throw a wrinkle into American coverage plans going forward.