BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) and Sky are set for unprecedented levels of football coverage in the coming weeks, which will be great news for content starved sports fans and for the subscription-based broadcasters.
Every second of play from the remaining 92 EPL games will be broadcast live by existing rights holders Sky, BT, Amazon Prime and the BBC (which will broadcast its first live league games since the Premier League’s inception in 1992).
Leaked, but not yet confirmed, scheduling envisages 10 hours of live football every Saturday and every Sunday – with games played one at a time, kicking off at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, and 8pm – followed by additional fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
The restart will mean the Premier League clubs will avoid over £700mln of potential penalties, had they not fulfilled the contracted number of live games.
Germany’s Bundesliga resumed in mid-May, meanwhile, Italy’s Serie A league will also restart in June.
Earlier this month it was speculated that billions of viewers could tune in to the Bundesliga games, as play resumed, but without the same worldwide razzle-dazzle that the English Premier League typifies the actual number of non-German fans watching das Fußball is believed to have been much lower.
Expectations nevertheless remain high for the Premier League’s viewing numbers.
Significantly, for the broadcasters, it will means additional cashflow from advertising and subscription fees.
Back in March, Sky, which is now part of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) allowed customers to suspend payments until its live sports coverage resumed – the minimum Sky Sports subscription costs £23 per month, on top of Sky’s core TV packages.
Premier League football resumes on 17 June and it is reported today, in the red-top tabloid papers, that Sky will start charging its sports subscribers again from 19 June. Even though these plans aren’t confirmed, there have already been complaints given that a wide range of other sporting events remain suspended or cancelled.
"Sky Sports won’t be able to offer the depth and breadth of football, golf, cricket, F1 and other sports that fans expect for some time,” Nick Baker, of consumer website USwitch.com, is quoted in The Sun.
“Many customers may feel hard done by if they have to pay full price for a service that isn’t what they signed up for.”
Matchroom Sports, the promotion business run by the Hearn family, are planning to host live boxing at ‘Fight Camp’ - a custom audience-less outdoor arena in ‘Eddie Hearn’s backyard’, actually on the lawn of Matchroom’s headquarters in the countryside near Brentwood, Essex.
Meanwhile, there has been some speculation that Formula 1 racing could take place, without crowds, at certain tracks in the coming months – potentially starting on 5 July with the Austrian grand prix, followed by racing at Hungary and possibly two GP rounds hosted at Silverstone in August.
Unlike football and boxing, F1 comes with the added complication of being intrinsically international and has a significant dependency upon logistics and supply-chain.
Separately, if Silverstone is home to F1 racing this summer will may do so with less British representation.
Friday brought the news that the Williams Formula 1 team is being put up for sale, after reporting a £13mln loss last year, while team principle Claire Williams said she aims to secure the team’s future by securing new investment.
It comes just days after supercar maker and F1 team McClaren laid off 25% of their workforce amid the strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
Whether the offering is complete or not, the resumption of live sports TV will be very welcome for broadcasters, subscribers, advertiser and football fans – oh, and don’t forget the bookies.