All Premier League games to be televised as PPV trial scrapped
English soccer’s top-tier Premier League has scrapped the unpopular pay-per-view model it was using to screen matches that were not part of its domestic broadcast rights contracts.
Starting with the upcoming weekend’s fixtures, all Premier League fixtures until the New Year will be shown live through the league’s four domestic broadcast partners: pay-TV duo Sky and BT Sport, streaming service Amazon Prime Sport and the BBC, the public-service broadcaster.
This arrangement is a return to the model used by the league in September, (and during the last two months of the 2019-20 campaign) when all games were broadcast live through those four official partners, with fans not being allowed into stadiums because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Every game from the Premier League’s first four match days in September and early October was made available to watch on Sky, BT and Amazon, while one fixture was shown free-to-air on the BBC. However, this ended as all parties were reluctant to continue to give matches away for no extra cost, fearing it would devalue rights in future negotiations.
Under the PPV scheme that followed, which proved unpopular with all parties and led to fan boycotts, the various games per matchday not already covered by BT and Sky were made available to supporters to purchase from the Sky Sports Box Office and BT Sport Box Office platforms, priced at £14.95 ($19.40) each.
The Premier League has now said: “These plans have been made with the cooperation of our broadcast partners, working with us to deliver these additional matches while stadiums are missing the supporters who are such an integral part of the game.
“The agreement will be reviewed in the new year, following consultation with clubs, broadcast partners and in line with any decisions made by government regarding the return of spectators to stadiums.”
The PPV scheme, introduced in mid-October and voted for with a 19-1 majority by the Premier League’s 20 clubs, was initially described as “an interim measure”, as a result of fans still not being able to enter stadiums by that point. It was originally meant to only last until the end of that month, but was then extended through the first weekend of November.
The first nine games to be shown on PPV, over the initial two weekends the scheme was in place, averaged a paying audience of only 39,000 fans, which did mean the figures hit the Premier League’s modest target, for PPV games to attract more fans than the average league stadium attendance, which is just above 38,000.
With England now in national lockdown until at least 2 December and fans therefore unable to return to games for, at the very least, another month, pressure had steadily grown on the league to either scrap PPV completely, or lower the pricing.
The ongoing international break had been earmarked for several weeks as the time that the PPV project would end.
The BBC, which showed one game in September, will broadcast Fulham against Everton live on 22 November, while TV selections and listings for December and early January have not yet been made.