Sky Sports faces big threat to its dominance of English football broadcasting
DAZN and TNT Sports ready to challenge in broadcasting bidding war
Sky Sports has been the TV home of English football for more than two decades, but they are now set to face the biggest threat to their dominance as new players enter the bidding for broadcasting rights.
Sky have been the leading players in deals to screen the Premier League and Football League for several years, with their subscription service heavily reliant on income from football fans.
While they have seen off threats from broadcasters such as BT Sport and Amazon in recent years, they are now being faced with a double challenge that could change the landscape of the English game for the next decade.
The big players in this story could be streaming service DAZN, who have made their mark in sports broadcasting with their boxing coverage.
Irish hero Katie Taylor is now fighting on DAZN, with her homecoming fight in Dublin May set to be streamed on the service.
DAZN is now also available on Sky Sports for an additional subscription, yet it seems their ambition does not stop in the ring.
Stories broke in England on Wednesday suggesting DAZN have made a major bid to land broadcasting rights for Football League games, with their plan including a proposal to screen every match live across all 72 teams.
That would appear to be a hugely ambitious project, but DAZN have shown they have the financial firepower to take on heavyweight broadcasting rivals and they are now aiming for the biggest prizes in British sport.
Football League chairmen have long suggested their broadcasting deal with Sky – worth £595m over five years – undervalues the product their offer.
With that deal set to expire next year, a decision will soon be made on the next move in a vote among all clubs.
Some are keen to stay with Sky, as they offer a unique platform to promote sport in the UK, with their Sky Sports News platform seen as a valuable promotional tool.
Clubs may also look with concern at the early DAZN experience for boxing in the UK, with some fighters already leaving the platform and returning to Sky citing poor viewing figures.
Yet money can talk in these discussions and DAZN could be prepared to offer a more lucrative deal than Sky to secure Football League rights.
Once that decision is made, the biggest prize up for grabs in the coming months are Premier League rights and DAZN will be joined by TNT Sports – the rebranded BT Sport - in battling for the deal.
Sky and BT Sport paid a reported £5.1million for Premier League broadcasting rights and there is now an expectation that DAZN will be offering a big financial bait to have matches on their platform.
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn left Sky to take his boxers to DAZN and he has hinted in recent days that the streaming platform have their eye on Premier League rights.
That will concern Sky and excite Premier League chairmen, who appreciate that competition should inflate the price of the new TV contract that will kick in for the start of the 2025/26 season.
Sky cannot afford to lose its status as the home of the Premier League, with so much of their business model based around their football base.
Yet they are now being threatened like never before as big-money rivals appear to be ready to challenge them for the TV rights that are considered to be the ultimate prize in English sport.