Sky pays 3.6 billion pounds to win bulk of new Premier League rights

LONDON (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch’s Sky <SKYB.L> will pay 3.58 billion pounds to show 128 Premier League matches for three seasons from 2019/20, in a deal that brings to an end rampant inflation in the value of the domestic rights for English top-flight soccer.

Rival BT <BT.L> said it had agreed to pay 885 million pounds($1.23 billion) to show 32 games a season for three years, after five of seven packages were auctioned on Tuesday.

In total, the 4.46 billion pounds the two companies agreed to pay for 160 games a season for three years is below the record 5.14 billion pounds raised in 2015, albeit with two small packages of 40 games remaining to be sold.

Sky said its disciplined approach to the auction had paid off, with it spending 16 percent less per game than in its current package.

The Premier League, however, said it was “extremely pleased” that BT and Sky continued to view its matches featuring the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea as an important part of their offering.

“To have achieved this investment with two packages of live rights remaining to sell is an outcome that is testament to the excellent football competition delivered by the clubs,” said Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore.

Sky said its four packages, which include slots on Sunday, Monday, and Friday as well as for the first time Saturday evening matches, cost 9.3 million pounds a game.

BT, which had been paying considerably less than Sky per game, will pay 9.2 million pounds a match for the one package it has secured so far.

Sky’s UK chief executive Stephen van Rooyen said the broadcaster’s disciplined approach to the auction had paid off, leaving it with the flexibility to invest in more entertainment and other content.

“Not only do we remain the home of Premier League football but also the home of top quality drama, entertainment, comedy and other sports,” he said.

The auction of two further packages of 20 games each a season had not finished, with interest from multiple bidders, the Premier League said on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Alistair Smout. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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