Prem postpones plans to sell remaining TV rights for 2019-22 - report
The Premier League's attempts to sell the two remaining packages of domestic live TV rights for 2019-22 have been postponed until next week at the earliest, Press Association Sport reports.
On Tuesday, the league announced it had sold the five biggest packages to BT and Sky for £4.464 billion after two rounds of bids, and it was expected that a third round would be held on Thursday.
But that plan has now changed, which will only increase speculation that the "multiple bidders'' the league claims are interested in the two packages are a long way off what was hoped for on price.
With the league nearly £700 million short of the sum it achieved for the current three-year deal, despite offering broadcasters 32 more live games a season, much depends on the next round of bids being a genuine contest between rivals.
One package is for two entire rounds of matches, one on a bank holiday and the other midweek, and the other is for two entire midweek rounds. The idea is the games will be broadcast simultaneously in a similar fashion to BT Sport's midweek offerings of European club football.
That makes BT the most likely winner of at least one of these packages, and the telecoms giant has confirmed it is continuing "to engage with the Premier League in regards to the remaining rights''.
Sky could pick up one more package before it hits the maximum allowed, but it seems satisfied with the 128 games it has already won, particularly as it can show games on Friday evenings, in two prime slots on Saturdays, twice on Sunday afternoons and once on Monday evenings, with a first-choice game every weekend.
The league had hoped the simulcast packages could be an ideal way into the football market for one of the big American tech giants, such as Amazon, Facebook or Google, but many experts believe they have decided it is too early to experiment with such expensive content. The companies have all refused to comment.
This has led some observers to suggest the Premier League may allow broadcasters to break up the rounds of matches over two bank holidays or two midweek nights, to create four evenings of action a season. The actual tender document did not specify that all 10 games had to take place at once.
In the meantime, the league is understood to be reassuring clubs that a total domestic package of about £5bn is perfectly acceptable after back-to-back increases of 70 percent, and the big gains expected from overseas deals will more than offset any decline in British income.
The foreign market, which is actually about 70 different regions, is already worth £3bn to the league and the four deals already signed for 2019-22 -- Brazil, China, South Africa and the United States -- have been for significant hikes.
That said, there are some analysts who believe this week's underwhelming auction result will have far-reaching repercussions. One such voice is Vysyble's Roger Bell, who told Press Association Sport he was not surprised to see BT and Sky come in with more affordable bids, as they both needed to placate concerned shareholders.
But Bell also had a warning for the league in general.
"Economically, the Premier League clubs have lost over £2bn since 2009 and the only thing that keeps the enterprise afloat is the lifeboat of increasing TV money every three years. A flat outcome when compared to the previous 70 percent increases suggests this time the lifeboat has failed to sail,'' he said.
"The clubs now face a minimum of five years of potentially increasing economic losses and constraints as a result. We would not be surprised to see structural change as the top clubs look for additional sources of profitable growth.
"Perhaps the '39th game' concept will reappear. Add in potential restrictions on international player movement and transfers as a result of Brexit and it looks like the smaller clubs will be hugely disadvantaged as a consequence.''