BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) will retain the main four live, domestic TV rights packages for the English Premier League (EPL) in a three-year deal expected to match the £1.3 billion the broadcaster paid for the lucrative contracts three years ago. After talks that went on past 10 pm last night, Sky holds on to four of the six available rights bundles, which leaves Setanta — current owner of the last two packages — to re-bid alongside Disney-owned ESPN (NYSE: DIS) for the remainder, mainly Monday night and Saturday evening games — three years ago Setanta paid £392 million for 46 live games. ESPN has signaled its interest in English football rights on a number of occasions, but under Competition Competition rules Sky can still bid for one more package.
And when that melee is over the more complex business of bidding for the new media rights begins. The EPL won’t say when the bidding will start or who is in the running, but we understand it will start as soon as the domestic bidding is over. The digital rights are roughly divided into live, near-live and highlights — our guide to what’s on offer is after the jump…
– Live: Sky and whoever wins the fifth or sixth packages can show live matches simultaneously through paid-for online VOD services like Sky Player.
– Near-live: But then there are separate rights up for grabs to show 242 matches “near-live”, currently owned jointly held by BT (NYSE: BT) and Sky, who bid £84.3 million in 2006. That deal allows BT to show games via its BT Vision VOD platform and Sky via its Football first red-button TV stream, after 10 pm on the day of each match. Both companies offer pay-per-view or subscription access.
– VOD Highlights: Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) has the rights to show VOD highlights which it does in partnership with sports rights holder Perform, whose e-player widget is housed on almost every major news publisher’s website from Guardian.co.uk to Telegraph.co.uk. As for mobile highlights, In 2006 Sky bought the highlights rights for mobile for less than £10 million, another sector that has grown exponentially since the last EPL negotiations — three years ago there were no iPhones. So expect some lively jostling for that contract when the league opens new media rights negotiations.