LONDON - Long-time rights holder BkyB has won five of seven TV rights packages for soccer games in the English Premier League, with smaller holder Walt Disney's ESPN losing out to British Telecon for the rest.
EPL CEO Richard Scudamore announced the winners of the TV rights deals, which was expect to raise £2 billion ($3.1 billion)-plus for the league compared with the current £1.78 billion deal, in a press conference late Wednesday afternoon. He said the value of the deal exceeded expectations by rising 70 percent to £3.018 billion.
The blind auction had gone into a second round, with some taking that as a sign that Al-Jazeera or another bidder had joined the incumbents in the battle for the live TV rights.
Investors for BSkyB, which has held most of the English soccer rights for two decades, have been closely following the outcome. Some had expressed concern that the pay TV giant, in which Rupert Murdoch holds a 39 percent stake, could lose some matches or have to pay up to retain them.
"The BSkyB model is built predominantly around premium live sports rights, with the English Premier League the jewel in the crown," said Peel Hunt analyst Patrick Yau.
The rights for the 2013/2014 British soccer season were being offered in seven packages that cover a total of 154 matches per season, up from 138 so far. A single company was allowed to only own a maximum of 116 matches or five games packages.
ESPN bought its first Premier League games in 2009 when Setanta Sports went under. It currently holds a package of 23 games that it was looking to increase to close to 40 matches a season.