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Ex-Premier League chief media rights adviser’s warning over possible future fall in TV rights fees as clubs argue against £330m rebate

Amid push back over a £330m rebate to Sky and other broadcasters, the Premier League faces an unpredictable future in terms of how the coronavirus pandemic could impact future TV deals.

While there is understandable excitement in the more immediate future as plans are made on how the current campaign will be completed, and with games being played behind closed doors it will lead to a huge rise in viewing figures with broadcasters battling over who will show what with more games on offer, there is seemingly concern over the long-term impact.

David Kogan, who was the Premier League’s chief media rights adviser from 1998 to 2015, has delivered his verdict on the matter and believes that having already seen a drop in the previous deals done involving Sky and BT, there could be another drop on the way after the pandemic.

Ex-PL adviser on TV rights situation

“You have Sky and BT buying Premier League rights consistently over the last three or four deals, and they’ve now got to a point where they’re getting money back,” he told reporters. They’ve seen their own schedules disrupted, they’re all going to be looking at the fact that last time the domestic rights dropped from £5.2bn to £4.5bn, once you start getting a rebate it starts sending a very clear message that money could be dropped.

“One thing that you can never do is to take away the drama of the Premier League process. Once you go through all the pre-negotiations, once you write the documents, once you do all the chat, you then go to an auction room and the one thing about the Premier League is that you can never actually predict what’s going to happen.

“The sheer pressure on broadcasters to support the league is balanced by the need of the broadcasters to manage their money. And so you can’t predict there will be an absolute drop, it’s going to come down to whether the broadcasters feel as though they can get away with paying less money but the drama of the auction room is the thing that ultimately determines how the Premier League does over the next three years.”

Opposition to rebate payment

It comes amid a group of Premier League clubs arguing against paying a £330m rebate to broadcasters with the clubs at the top of the table expected to pay more due to the structure of the agreement, while it has been suggested that payments could be staggered over the next two seasons to help clubs cope with the financial fallout of the crisis.

However, the rebate is expected to be opposed entirely by some clubs as they argue that although there have been no games since March, they believe that the premium on live televised matches will increase given the rescheduled fixtures will be played behind closed doors.

Further, with the 3pm blackout lifted on Saturdays, that gives broadcasters even more opportunity to show games and that subsequently increases the value of their investment further.

Long-term impact

While talks this week will potentially sort out the short-term picture, Kogan has shared his thoughts with the next round of TV rights negotiations to be held later this year.

With the potential of little competition for Sky and BT aside from Amazon, and while broadcasters around the world will have been hit hard by the pandemic, it may be questioned why any of them would bid more than they have been as the Premier League may not have much choice but to accept certain deals.

Kogan has also suggested that continuing to broadcast the 3pm Saturday games could be a solution as it ultimately raises more money for the league and FA, and while that works for as long as games are played behind closed doors, it would surely need to end eventually to avoid a negative impact on attendance figures.

 

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