£5.136bn – that’s the GDP of Moldova. It's also the figure for which the Premier League has peddled the UK television rights for the 2016-2019 seasons. The winners, Sky Sports and BT Sport, were announced on Tuesday, with the pair set to show 168 games per season between them.
Within the deal, Sky will pay £4.176bn under the terms of the new agreement, and BT £960m - a huge increase on the previous sale in which Sky paid £2.3bn and BT £738m. Sky received the lion's share of the rights including the Sunday evening 'jewel in the crown' package, while BT Sport will have the Saturday evening package instead of the Saturday lunchtime slot.
OK, question every footie fan wants answered: Will my bill go up to pay new £5.136-BILLION TV deal on Sky and BT? Fear a Yes— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) February 10, 2015
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “This outcome provides a degree of certainty so clubs can continue to invest and run themselves in a sustainable manner; it also allows us to start planning how the Premier League can continue to support the rest of the football pyramid from the grassroots upwards.
Great news for players, agents, estate agents, Ferrari salesmen...etc. @premierleague deal is a bumper £5.136 billion for 2016-19.— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) February 10, 2015
“This structure also allows us to strike a balance between match-attending fans and those who choose to watch on television. Keeping grounds full is a priority for the Premier League and our clubs, and I am sure the flexible ticketing policies that have helped keep attendances so high will continue to develop.
£5 billion for the new @premierleague TV deal. The game's awash with money. Cut ticket prices & make it affordable for real fans to attend.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 10, 2015
“Although we have had a successful outcome for this process, following on from the highlights’ award, there is still the ongoing Ofcom investigation to be concluded. We remain confident that the Premier League’s live UK broadcasting rights are sold in a way that is compatible with both UK and EU competition law as well as being of great benefit to the whole of English football.”
The new deals will see even more money flood in to the top flight, with the broadcasters paying more than £10 million to screen each game. It leaves the rest of club football across the world far behind in terms of domestic television income compared to the Premier League - which also still has the lucrative overseas deals to negotiate.
The £5.136billion Sky and BT are paying for Premier League TV rights 2016-19 is a 70 percent increase on what they paid for 2013-16— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) February 10, 2015
Sky has held on to five of the seven packages totalling 126 matches including the new Friday night slot for 10 games, while BT Sport has two packages making up 42 matches.
Scudamore added: "Premier League clubs deliver competitive and compelling football to fans in stadiums and on television, driving interest levels to new heights. Last season saw record levels of attendance with the highest top-flight crowds since 1949-50, as well as increased viewing figures across all our UK rights holders.
"Both Sky Sports and BT Sport have done a tremendous job in bringing the game to the fans as well as providing the revenue that allows clubs to invest in football, facilities, youth development and their communities.
"It is an endorsement of what the Barclays Premier League delivers that these broadcast partnerships have been extended and enhanced today. We are grateful for the continued belief that Sky Sports and BT Sport have in the Premier League and our clubs, both as a sporting competition and organisations to work with."
That's the coaching badges out the window for a few years.— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) February 10, 2015
Scudamore said the Premier League was confident the rights sale would not be de-railed by Virgin Media's ongoing complaint with the broadcast regulator Ofcom.
He said: "Although we have had a successful outcome for this process, following on from the highlights' award, there is still the ongoing Ofcom investigation to be concluded. We remain confident that the Premier League's live UK broadcasting rights are sold in a way that is compatible with both UK and EU competition law as well as being of great benefit to the whole of English football."
Shadow sports minister Clive Efford demanded that a significant portion of the extra income should go to grassroots football. Efford said: "These are incredible sums of money and it would be nothing short of criminal if none of this extra money goes to expand participation at the grassroots of football.
"Labour has consistently demanded that not all of this money should stay at the top of the game in the form of ever-more-inflated salaries for Premier League footballers and their agents. The grassroots of the game must benefit from this bonanza through a boost in participation and improved facilities."
Virgin Media claimed the new deals were "hurting fans". Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media's chief executive officer, said: "A 70% increase shows the TV rights auction is a licence for the Premier League to print money. You can't blame the Premier League - they are simply exploiting the sales process.
"But this is hurting fans and does not warrant an exemption from normal competition law rules. There are other and better ways to structure the auction - selling more games gives more value for money and selling non-exclusively to broadcasters would take some of the heat out of auction process."