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The Premier League is to revamp the sale of its TV rights in the UK, with plans to extend the duration of the deal to four years and remove the so-called ‘Amazon’ smaller tranche of games in favour of fewer, bigger packages to drive proceeds.
The upcoming auction is a major test for the Premier League and chief executive Richard Masters. The UK government allowed the league and its broadcasters to roll over their prior deals during the pandemic, meaning the price of rights has not been set since the £5bn deal for rights spanning 2019-22.
Premier League officials are finalising the terms of the auction process but the length of the deal is likely to be extended to four years, breaking the established three year cycle, according to club and broadcast executives.
The move is in response to feedback from broadcasters that the current terms made ownership of the games riskier, with the frequency of auctions leaving less time to invest in the production and broadcast elements. In the US, longer term deals, extending to six or 10 years, are not uncommon.
The number of games auctioned is also likely to be increased significantly from the 200 at present, with games spread from Friday to Monday, and including earlier slots on Saturday, according to the people.
A rumoured extra game on Sunday night is unlikely to go ahead, however, according to broadcast executives and a person familiar with the league’s plans.
Officials are also working on an auction structure with fewer than the current total of seven packages, according to people briefed on their thinking.
Broadcast executives expect the number of packages to fall to as low as five, although those close to the Premier League say that no final decision has been made on any aspect of the auction.
The Premier League declined to comment.
Crucially, a smaller number would remove the small package of 20 games designed to attract tech and streaming firms in the 2018 auction that allowed Amazon to show games around key dates such as Christmas and its retail sales days.
Should it wish, Amazon would then have to bid more to secure a larger package, making it a more fully fledged sports channel rather than using the games as a marketing tool for customers to its retail services.
The auction is set to start in the next few weeks, according to broadcast executives, with bids expected from Sky, DAZN and TNT Sports, which is jointly owned by BT and Warner Bros Discovery.
The likely changes are hoped to allow Premier League chiefs to auction the rights for more money, with a greater number of games over a longer period of time likely to yield a higher price even if the cost per game falls.
Analysts expect bidders to be restrained by their own needs to curtail costs given the tough market for TV, with consumers also looking to tighten their belts.