The Premier League unveiled the temporary measures on Friday after talks with the clubs after the government cancelled the reopening of sports grounds to spectators that had been planned for this month following the rising second wave of coronavirus cases in London, the Midlands and the North.
“The Premier League today confirmed all fixtures until the end of October will continue to be made available to fans to watch live in the UK,” the league said in a statement.
“Under these new arrangements, the current live match selections will remain in place and will be broadcast as normal.
“In addition, the five matches per round not already selected will be made available to supporters on a pay-per-view basis, accessed via BT Sport Box Office and Sky Sports Box Office platforms.
Premier League broadcast rights
The changes come amid anticipated changes when the next broadcast rights are agreed, which is expected early next year.
One big new contender is lurking, in the hulking great form of Amazon.
The US digital colossus has steadily become a more ingrained part of the Premier League landscape, with a package of 20 games per season in the last auction of Premier League rights from the previous season through to 2021/22.
But, in the coronavirus-affected schedule last season, Jess Bezos and co stepped in to broadcast further fixtures as the league restarted behind closed doors in July.
In the last major auction, a combined £4.4bn was stumped up for 200 games per season by Sky (128 games) and BT (32 games), with Amazon getting the games no-one else wanted as it made its first foray into the UK game.
READ: Why is Amazon playing with the Premier League, is it a timebomb for the TV and telecoms ‘bundle’?
The recent TV pilot-like coverage from Amazon was seen by some observers as the online titan’s baby steps at building a larger broadcast production, amassing data on audience engagement and probably how best to upsell to customers too. ‘Customers who watched Crystal Palace vs Everton also bought X, Y, Z!’
It certainly heightens the threat for Sky and BT.
City analysts also believe BT remains keen on sport but is refining its approach, especially as sport revenue and profit from pubs and clubs is not expected to return to normal levels of £8-10mln per month for the foreseeable future.
Direct BT Sport customers have declined from 3.5mln to less than 2mln over the last five years, but revenue has increased 65% as BT has moved to ensure that all BT Sport customers pay for the content, as well as expanding its distribution channels.
BT consumer boss Marc Allera was very clear at a City briefing this week that “we certainly do not see an inflationary environment in rights”, analysts at Berenberg revealed in a note on Friday, adding that Allera said “my goal ideally is to pay less”.
The analysts said the next test of this will be the Premier League auction, which they expect in the first half of next year, where they forecast BT will secure rights for 10% less than the current £325mln per year.