The landscape of UK football broadcasting will be reshaped again in 2019 as Amazon becomes the first internet streaming service to win live rights to broadcast Premier League matches.
The retailer-to-internet streaming giant has secured one of two remaining domestic live rights packages available for three years from the 2019/20 season, giving members of its Prime Video service access to live coverage of every match from two entire rounds of fixtures, representing 20 games each season.
It was one of two packages of domestic rights that remained unsold from the Premier League’s domestic TV rights auction earlier this year, in which Sky Sports retained the majority of the live rights packages on offer with a £3.58bn deal to broadcast 128 matches each season from 2019/20 to 2021/22.
The other remaining unsold rights package to show a further two rounds of live games were won by BT Sport, boosting its number of live matches from 32 to 52 in total over the course of the next three year rights cycle.
It marks the first time a full round of Premier League matches will be shown live to UK audiences in its 26-year history, with Amazon confirming that all of its matches will be available to all Amazon Prime subscribers in the UK at no extra cost to their membership.
The online streaming service, which started as an online retailer, will show every game from the first round of midweek games in December and all 10 games on Boxing Day as part of the three-year deal. In addition, Prime members will be able to watch weekly highlights of all Premier League matches throughout the season.
Premier League football joins Amazon Prime Video’s growing stable of live sports rights, including US Open Tennis, ATP World Tour Tennis events and NFL games.
Jay Marine, Vice President of Prime Video in Europe, said:
“We are always looking to add more value to Prime, and we’re delighted to now offer, for the first time, live Premier League matches to Prime members at no extra cost to their membership.
“The Premier League is the most watched sports league in the world. Over these two December fixture rounds Prime members will be able to watch every team, every game, so no matter which Premier League team you support, you’re guaranteed to see them play live on Prime Video.”
Fans will need a Prime membership to watch Amazon’s live Premier League coverage, which currently costs £79 a year or £7.99 a month. Prime can be streamed on any Smart TV and mobile device.
The remaining live package won by BT Sport includes the rights to broadcast several fixtures from the split weekend, a new initiative by the Premier League that it hopes will create an opportunity for a mid-season break.
BT Sport will show 15 matches from two midweek fixture programmes and five matches from the split weekend, in addition to the 32 Saturday lunchtime matches that the broadcaster secured earlier this year, taking its total number of live matches to 52 per season.
Andy Haworth, managing director for content and strategy for BT’s Consumer division said:
“We’re delighted to be able to offer our customers even more Premier League matches and to create exciting mid-week nights of top flight Premier League football action.”
“The fantastic sport our customers can view continues to grow. Today’s Premier League announcement, and the recent deal with NOW TV, means BT TV customers will have access to all of the best exclusively live sporting action in the UK.
“We look forward to continuing as a partner of the Premier League and showcasing the most exciting league in the world.”
The conclusion of the domestic Premier League TV rights sale was confirmed at the Premier League’s annual meeting, which also saw clubs agree for the first time to distribute some foreign TV revenue based on where a team finishes from 2019.
Revenue is currently shared equally among the 20 clubs, but the bigger clubs had been pushing for a greater share of the money, arguing they are the main attraction for foreign viewers.
Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said:
“We are extremely pleased that Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon have invested in these rights and all view the Premier League and our clubs as vital parts of their live sports offerings.
“Sky and BT are established Premier League partners and provide first-rate coverage of the competition through their live-match broadcasts and comprehensive programming.
“We welcome Amazon as an exciting new partner and we know Prime Video will provide an excellent service on which fans can consume the Premier League.
“The interest in our UK rights is testament to the fantastic competition delivered by our clubs. This outcome will support their continued efforts to put on the best possible football and use their popularity and reach to have a positive impact on the sport and beyond.”
The Premier League offered 200 live matches a season to UK broadcasters split into seven packages, an increase from 168 which were made available in the 2015 auction.
It sold five of the seven packages in February 2018 with Sky Sports acquiring four packages, totalling 128 matches per season, and BT Sport one package, for 32 matches per season, while the remaining two packages of games were left unsold as bids failed to meet their reserve price. They have now been secured by Amazon and BT, albeit at a heavily-discounted price.
The Premier League had been hoping that interest from tech-giants, such as Amazon and Facebook, would trigger a bidding war in initial auction, but those hopes failed to materialise as the incumbent pay-TV giants Sky and BT once again scooped the prime packages.
The two new packages, which feature entire rounds of televised fixtures for the first time, were created with online streaming services in mind but had been described by one senior industry executive, according to the Daily Telegraph, as a “failed experiment” by the Premier League.
The total value of the rights across all seven packages now sold is £4.55bn, with Amazon yet to announce how much it has paid, while BT is thought to have paid £90m for its final package, taking their total spend to £975m over three seasons.
Notable changes for the 2019-2022 TV deal include eight individual games being shown live in a ‘prime-time’ Saturday night slot, three complete rounds of 10 midweek matches all shown live and one set of bank holiday games.
Which broadcaster will be showing which Premier League matches live from 2019/20 season onwards? Full details below.
128 matches per season
Package B 32 matches, Saturday 5.30pm
Package C 24 matches, Sunday 2pm + 8 matches, Saturday 7.45pm
Package D 32 matches, Sunday 4.30pm
Package E 24 matches, Monday 8pm or Friday 7.30-8.00pm + 8 matches, Sunday 2pm
52 matches per season
Package A 32 matches, Saturday 12.30pm
Package G 15 matches from 2 midweek fixture rounds + 5 matches from split weekend
20 matches per season
Package F 10 matches from 1 Bank Holiday fixture round + 10 matches from midweek fixture round