Premier League clubs set to share £8billion TV bonanza
An £8bn windfall could be shared among Premier League clubs from next year after Sky Sports broke the bank to retain its stranglehold on the right to show its matches.
For the second successive broadcast rights auction, Sky and BT stunned the game by bankrolling a 70pc surge in the value of the UK contract, which will cost the warring media giants a combined £5.136bn between 2016 and 2019.
In an astonishing increase on the existing £3.018bn deal, Sky was forced to pay £4.176bn to keep hold of the 126 maximum possible number of matches - almost double the £2.28bn it shelled out for a similar monopoly two years ago.
Of the seven packages up for auction, Sky again took five, with BT Sport securing the remaining two (totalling 42 games) at a cost of £960m - a far more modest increase on its existing £738m commitment.
Its strategy of bidding big for all packages ensured that Sky had little choice but to smash the record for UK TV rights, with the new mark coming close to the £5.5bn netted by the Premier League for all its rights for 2013-16.
That figure is now guaranteed to be far outstripped when international and other packages are sold this year - with the final total expected to exceed £8bn.
The new UK deal means that each of the 168 games to be shown live per season will cost an average of more than £10m each, with Sky paying £11m per match and BT £7.6m.
The outcome was arguably even more stunning than BT's £897m capture of the Champions League and other European club football just over a year ago.
That made Sky intent on keeping hold of the lion's share of Premier League football, particularly the coveted 4pm 'Super Sunday' slot.
In the auction, Sky was also awarded Sunday lunchtime, Saturday lunchtime and Friday and Monday night matches.
At least 18 games will be shown on a Friday night, but this package has no first or second choice picks.
Sky also increased the number of first-picks it holds from 20 to 26, with BT's falling from 18 to 12, although it now has seven second-picks as well.
BT Sport kept hold of its midweek fixtures and swapped Saturday lunchtime for the more attractive Saturday evening spot.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore expressed surprise at an increase he thought would be "impossible", despite the auction being designed to extract the maximum possible revenue for his clubs.
In a comment that provoked laughter, he said: "Am I surprised? Of course, the little old Premier League, doing quite well here. Look, you laugh, but the reality is that compared with BT and Sky we are.
"Last time, as you probably know from my reaction, I was surprised with the figures we got then, so I am surprised this time again. But then, if you look at who's in play here, they are both very successful companies."
Scudamore refused to be drawn on whether Sky and BT had faced competition from a third bidder amid speculation that the Discovery Network was preparing an offer.
However, he said: "We did get interest and were presented to by various different types of companies."
He also defended the outcome, insisting that the Premier League gave back more than its fair share.
Sky Sports insisted that it had achieved its aims from the auction and vowed to work to avoid passing on the cost to its subscribers. (© Daily Telegraph, London)