You could soon be watching Premier League football via your favourite social media account
Amazon and Facebook are expected to enter the bidding war when the next Premier League TV deal is negotiated in the coming months, according to Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman of Manchester United.
It is feared by some parties that this could lead to transfer fees and wages spiralling even further and even pose a threat to Sky and BT Sport’s domestic dominance.
Facebook tried to gain the digital rights for crickets IPL but failed with a $600 million bid and Amazon bought the rights to show the 10 Thursday night NFL games for $50 million. Google and Netflix certainly haven’t been ruled when it comes to making a bid.
Bidding for next season’s rights will start in February and everyone expects it to be a heated auction. UK broadcaster Sky will be forced to pay a premium of 45% on the £4.2 billion they paid last time if they are to fend off competition.
In reality, it will be the clubs and players who benefit the most with United’s wage bill surpassing £250 million in their last posted accounts.
Speaking on a conference call to investors, Woodward confirmed Facebook and Amazon were expected to enter the bidding for Premier League rights and possibly Champions League rights.
“Absolutely I think they’ll enter the mix,” Woodward said. “Anecdotally there was strong interest in the last cycle, and we’re hearing that around the Premier League table, but we’re also hearing that from a European perspective as well in terms of interest in the Champions League and Europa League rights.
“In the wider picture you have to look at what’s happening elsewhere at the moment. There isn’t any clear European sale to these kind of partners at the moment. But looking at the interest Facebook and Amazon had in the Indian Premier League rights, anecdotally it sounded like very big numbers.”
He added: “So I do think we are going to see an increase in engagement from these and we would welcome the interest. I think it’s going to be increasingly important to digitally engage with fans, and we think we can be complementary to partners like this coming in.”
It appears that UEFA are keen to enforce the Financial Fair Play rules to try and protect the game, but with massive income coming from TV rights, they would be powerless to do anything. It will be very interesting to see how the bidding goes early next year.