Sky Sports is to remain the main broadcaster of the Premier League, having won five of seven packages on offer in the sport’s latest broadcast rights auction, including Saturday lunchtime and Sunday 4pm games.
Rivals BT Sport won two packages giving them matches at 5.30pm on Saturday and some midweek games. In all it will have 42 games per season, a four games increase on its current deal, but will have fewer first picks.
Between them the two broadcasters will pay £5.136bn.
Today’s auction covers games for a three year period between 2016/17 and 2018/19.
This year 168 live games were up for grabs – fourteen more than offered in the 2012 auction in which BT and Sky paid more than £3bn to cover the world’s most popular football contest.
Premier League bosses had ruled that no single broadcaster would be able to show more than 126 matches, ensuring that at least two outlets would secure games and setting the scene for a fierce bidding war between the UK’s two biggest sports broadcasters.
In the end Sky disproved widespread speculation that it would lose control of the sport by taking the maximum games permitted, albeit at a significant increase in cost.
Sky will pay £1,392 million per annum for each of the three years of the new agreement, representing an 83% increase over the cost of the existing contract.
In a statement the firm said it had “the best match picks, including 26 first picks and 31 second picks” and would be able to show every Premier League club at least four times a season.
Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said: “This is a good result and confirms that Sky is the unrivalled choice for sports fans. We went into the Premier League auction with a clear objective and are pleased to have secured the rights that we wanted.
“Our strong performance across the board gives us financial strength and flexibility. We have a clear plan to absorb the cost of the new Premier League deal while delivering our financial plans.”
Commenting after the results of the auction were announced, BT’s John Petter said the new rights would sit alongside the broadcaster’s exclusive coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League which start this summer.
Mr Petter said: “I am pleased we will be showing Premier League football for a further three years and that we have secured the prime Saturday evening slot.
“These new rights will enhance our existing schedule of football, rugby and other international sport, including all the live footballing action from the UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues starting this summer.
“BT Sport has got off to a strong start, reaching more than five million households and commercial premises, by making itself far more affordable and accessible to sports fans.”
A BT spokesperson said the firm would pay £320m per season compared with £246m per season at present.
Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “Last season saw record levels of attendance with the highest top-flight crowds since 1949/50, as well as increased viewing figures across all our UK rights holders.
“Both Sky Sports and BT Sport have done a tremendous job in bringing the game to the fans as well as providing the revenue that allows clubs to invest in football, facilities, youth development and their communities.
“It is an endorsement of what the Barclays Premier League delivers that these broadcast partnerships have been extended and enhanced today. We are grateful for the continued belief that Sky Sports and BT Sport have in the Premier League and our clubs, both as a sporting competition and organisations to work with.”
Although he declined to name any other bidders, Mr Scudamore confirmed there had been “significant interest and participation in the process from other highly credible parties.”
Media regulator Ofcom is currently investigating how rights to the contest are sold following a complaint by cable firm Virgin Media which claims the exclusive nature of the packages on sale forces fans to pay increasingly large subscriptions.
Commenting on possible Ofcom action, Mr Scudamore said: “We remain confident that the Premier League’s live UK broadcasting rights are sold in a way that is compatible with both UK and EU competition law as well as being of great benefit to the whole of English football.”