FOOTBALL: BBC holds on to Premier League highlights until 2016

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Match of the Day will stay on the air until at least 2016 after the BBC secured a new three-year extension to screen Premier League highlights, taking the programme through to its 50th anniversary.

The BBC has retained their free-to-air highlights package, including the traditional Saturday evening Match of the Day programme, the Sunday morning repeat, Match of the Day 2 on Sunday evenings, and selected midweek editions for the occasions when Premier League fixtures justify a show.

The new £180m deal, a 3.9% increase on the £173m it pays for its current deal, starts from the beginning of the 2013/2014 season.

Both MotD and MotD2 will be available on the BBC’s iPlayer from midnight on Mondays. Under the current deal, only the Sunday edition is made available via the catch-up service from Tuesdays after transmission.

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker added: “It is wonderful news that we have MotD for another three years.

“It is a flagship programme and it shows how much the BBC values sport and the importance of football.”

Despite the value of highlights rights diminishing in recent years as broadcasters favour live sport, Match of the Day continues to buck the trend with around 4m viewers tuning in to watch every Saturday, while the Sunday edition normally attracts 2m.

For many football fans, the BBC’s flagship programme remains the place where they get their weekly fix of the captivating Premier League drama.

The final day of the 2011/2012 season, which saw Manchester City clinch the title in dramatic fashion, drew an impressive 31.2% audience share on BBC One, with a peak of 5.6 million viewers.

Barbara Slater, the BBC’s Director of Sport, said: “With such an amazing season and thrilling finale, Premier League football has never been more exciting and dramatic.

“We’re absolutely delighted that the TV highlights will continue to be available to licence fee payers. We’ve seen audiences for MOTD grow in recent years and the programme remains one of the BBC’s best loved and most iconic brands.

“The new contract will see MOTD celebrate its 50th birthday in 2014 and extend coverage to the end of the 2015/16 season.”

The first ever Match of the Day was broadcast on BBC Two on 22 August 1964, presented by the late Kenneth Wolstenholme. It showed highlights of the Division One encounter between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield.

Famous presenters down the years have included David Coleman, Jimmy Hill and Des Lynam.

TV rights for top-flight football have switched on numerous occasions between BBC and ITV through the decades, with Premier League highlights returning to the BBC in the 2004-05 season after a three-year spell with ITV.

Gary Lineker has been MotD’s main anchor since 1999, with the show’s regular team of pundits including Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson and Alan Shearer.

The show moved from BBC TV Centre to the corporation’s new Salford base in November 2011, enabling viewers to watch the programme in high-definition for the first time.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said: “The free-to-air highlights are extremely important to the broadcast reach of the Premier League; allowing the competition and our clubs to be seen by the maximum possible number of fans across the country.

“The BBC has done a fantastic job for fans of Premier League clubs by providing quality coverage and analysis across their programmes.

“We are very pleased to be continuing our partnership with them.”

The new Premier League highlights deal adds to the BBC’s recent renewal of its Football League highlights contract.

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