Blanket UK TV coverage for EPL continuing, but longer-term solution sought
Full live television coverage in the UK of all matches from English soccer’s Premier League is to continue into the start of October although the clubs are mulling other solutions for the rest of the 2020-21 season.
With spectators presently excluded from sports events because of the coronavirus pandemic, as at the end of the last campaign, the league has made every top flight fixture in September available for domestic live broadcast
This will remain the case for the fixtures on 3 and 4 October after the UK government this week ruled out the return of crowds for the foreseeable future as it imposed tighter restrictions on social gatherings amid an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Until now, Premier League games that were not originally due to be shown in the UK have been divided between rights-holders Sky, BT Sport, Amazon and the BBC.
It is understood that Sky will show six games and BT Sport the other four on the first weekend of October, the last round of fixtures before the international break.
With the possibility that spectators may not be admitted until next March, the Premier League will be under pressure to ensure that all matches will be available to fans.
However, it is reported that the clubs have concerns over the viability of offering every game live in the UK through to the end of season, in part because of the impact on scheduling, and coverage in overseas markets.
The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper reported this week that the Premier League is facing rebate demands from Asian broadcasters affected by the later kick-off times for many matches - there is only one game at 3pm (BST) on Saturdays at present - as these have resulted in lower audiences.
If the Premier League decides against offering all matches live on UK television for the duration of the 2020-21 season, one solution would be for selected games to be streamed on club websites for a fee or with access codes for season ticket holders, according to the Times newspaper.
This would require the support of the league’s domestic broadcast partners.
In the meantime, the kick-off times for some matches are being brought forward slightly in respect of the new 10pm closing time for pubs and clubs in the UK.
These include next Monday’s high-profile clash between defending champions Liverpool and Arsenal, which will now start at 8pm rather than 8.15pm.