Football TV rights hikes ‘unlikely to be repeated’

The vast increases seen in domestic Premier League TV rights deals over the past five years are unlikely to be repeated, according to football finance expert Rob Wilson.

Sky Sports celebrates its 25th anniversary today — a quarter of a century in which it has changed the landscape of English sport.

Last season’s Premier League champions Chelsea earned nearly £100m (€126m) in prize money. Manchester United made less than £1m from their triumph in 1993.

Mr Wilson, from Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Sky put all their eggs in one basket in 1992 and they went after professional team sport as their way of driving subscriptions.

"There wasn’t a pay TV market in the UK, and Sky managed to rebrand what football was all about, with the increased exposure on the television and with their infographics and analysis. They’ve grown their subscriber base by 100% over the last 25 years.”

TV rights has been almost entirely responsible for the exponential growth. Sky paid £304m for its first five-year deal. Last year it was announced Sky and BT Sport will pay a combined £5.1bn to show Premier League football between 2016 and 2019.

With BT’s venture into the market forcing Sky’s hand, Mr Wilson believes it has got to the point where the rewards no longer justify the outlay.

“I think Sky have reached a plateau in terms of their subscriptions and I think we have probably reached a ceiling at which they’re prepared to pay for rights to the Premier League,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ll see anything like the sorts of broadcast revenue increase that we’ve seen over the last five years. I genuinely think they’ve reached a saturation point with what the domestic rights are worth.”


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