Virgin Media has called on TV regulator Ofcom to investigate the way Premier League rights are sold, the Guardian reports.
The cable company claims “UK fans pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV” as a result of the league’s splitting of rights into separate packages which rival broadcasters then compete to win.
Rights to the 2013-16 seasons are split between BT and Sky who collectively paid almost £3bn for the seven packages.
Bidding for the next set of rights is expected to get underway within months and many analysts believe the rival broadcasters will pay significantly more to retain and possibly increase their share of top games.
The Guardian quotes Brigitte Trafford, Virgin Media’s chief corporate affairs officer, as saying: “The rapidly rising cost of Premier League live broadcast rights means UK fans pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV.
“Virgin Media has asked Ofcom to investigate how the rights are sold ahead of the next auction.”
Virgin sold its channel business to Sky meaning it’s entirely reliant on paying third parties for content and is therefore likely to suffer from any increase in rights costs as broadcasters look to resellers to recoup some of their overheads.
Last year the cable firm admitted that a delay in securing a carriage deal for BT Sport’s debut season had cost it subscribers.
It also warned that the cost of the BT deal and “rate increases on Sky premium content”, including Sky Sports, had left it with “higher programming costs”.