It's not just about the number of games - who will show them in 4K Ultra HD first?
Even prior to yesterday’s staggering £5.14 billion TV rights deal, the Premier League was already the crown jewels of British TV.In these days where you can watch your favourite movies and TV shows from a multitude of sources, pretty much wherever you are, live content is key to attracting customers and nothing does it quite like football.
It’s not all about the advertising revenue – although there will be plenty of that – but for the bidders involved, the opportunity to sell whole home communications packages encompassing television, broadband, phone and mobile.
For anyone unaware of how the deal unfolded; the Premier League invites bidders for seven separate packages - five of 28 matches and two of 14 matches – covering various days and time periods, plus the mobile rights.
Who got what and when will they show the games?
As it transpired, not a lot really changed – disregarding the money – from the current state of play. Sky slightly increased their domination of the market by bagging five of the packages, whilst BT picked up the other two.
There was a swap-round in the Saturday evening and lunchtime rights, where from the 2016/17 season, BT will now get the 5.30pm game, whilst Sky gets the lunchtime 12.30pm kick-off. How that stacks up for you and your viewing habits is going to be a matter of personal preference, but for our money, that’s a slight gain for BT. In total, BT gets four more games than they did under the current deal, increasing from 38 to 42 per season.
Sky isn’t going to be too concerned by that, however. For around about an average of £10.2 million per game – yes, that’s correct - they retain the ‘Super Sunday’ double-header rights and Monday night games, whilst additionally picking up the new package allowing them 10 games a season on a Friday night. They are also able to show eight games per season on Bank Holidays and their overall coverage has increased from 116 to 126 games per season.
How will it affect my current subscription?
We don’t know yet but with an overall monetary increase of more than 70% over the last deal, it’s fair to assume that some of those costs will be passed on to the customer. Whether both BT and Sky will continue to offer incentivized reasons, via their Sports output, for new customers to take TV, broadband and phone deals also isn’t clear but you would think it’s highly likely. Third party providers, e.g. Virgin, who buy the content wholesale may again be best placed to offer the lot at the best price – albeit by only a couple of quid a month.
Mobile and On Demand
For those on the move and/or not wanting to pay to subscribe to Sky, the games will be available on the Sky GO and NOW TV platforms, meaning you can watch it on a range of devices, including smartphones/tablets, PC, games consoles and media streaming boxes. Details surrounding the BT App have yet to be made clear, but presumably qualifying customers will still be able to view the games BT has rights too through it.
Costs will inevitably be passed on to the customer
Is 4K Ultra HD Premier League Action Coming?
Having dealt with the nuts and bolts of how and where to watch, let’s move on to a subject close to AVForums hearts’. With prices of Ultra HD TVs and projectors rapidly falling, sales are inevitably on the up so the content providers are beginning to pay real notice. The incentive is now there for both Sky and BT to be the first to push out a 4K service, with sports once again forming the major battleground.
Back in 2014, it was BT who were making the more positive noises around 4K, although both parties were involved with trialing Ultra HD sports broadcasting last year. There are no definite dates, yet, but recent comments from BT’s groups chief executive, Gavin Patterson, would suggest their itching to roll it out. BT will make use of their new fibre optic network to deliver Ultra HD resolutions – in addition to other features such as different camera angles and player cams – to customers benefiting from their investment. It certainly wouldn’t be much of a stretch to believe that BT would have a 4K service ready to go in time for the start of the new deal in August 2016 and likely sooner.
Sky’s previous watching brief policy looks to have come to an end, with some even suggesting they might launch a new 4K Set-Top-Box – and accompanying service – to counter BT’s exclusivity period for Champions League Coverage. For reference, BT begins its European coverage this year after shelling out nearly £900 million back in 2013. There’s no reason why Sky can’t produce the hardware and recent satellite trials of 4K transmission have been successful. So, it looks like the race is on and Virgin are also well placed to enter the Ultra HD delivery market with their extensive ultra-fast broadband network in the UK.
So the future of your Premier League viewing promises more games, higher resolutions and new ways in which to watch but it’s highly likely to hit you in the pocket, should you want it all.
What does the new deal mean to you? Does the Saturday scheduling change mean you’re likely to move from one camp to the other and will you be prepared to pay more for 4K Premier League?
On a wider note, is all this money good for the game and do we need games on a Friday night? OK, scrub the last one – of course we need games on a Friday!
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