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Premier League confirms plans for over-the-top streaming service

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Possible trial service to start in 2022

Logos Of The World Photoillustration Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Are you ready to binge watch some Premier League football?

Hit “continue watching” if you’re ready. Or just let it play automatically.

New Premier League CEO Richard Masters has confirmed plans for an over-the-top streaming service (i.e. not dependent on or tied to traditional broadcasting services), which could launch as soon as 2022, at least on a trial basis.

“During the last process we spent quite a lot of time and invested a lot of recourse in building out our expertise and capacity in ‘direct consumer’. We considered whether it would be the right time to test a few markets and decided not to. But we are going to continue for the planning phase in the next commercial term to build out those capabilities.”

“We were ready last time and we will be ready next time should the opportunity arise.”

The Premier League sells TV rights in three-year increments, which means that the next opportunity to introduce this service would be in 2022.

For the 2019-22 period, the league already sold (UK rights to) to 20 games per season to Amazon Prime, marking it the first time that an online-only service held rights to any games in the UK. In other regions, the League is less tied to (betrothed to the billions from) traditional broadcast media, which explains why they plan on launching any actual streaming service overseas first. In Canada, for example, all games are on DAZN already.

While Masters has not put a specific timeline in place for the launch of a Premier League-branded service, he moved to head off any speculation that this is a response to the increasing view that the ridiculous TV rights’ incomes are unsustainable — which of course won’t stop said speculation, since it sure seems bubbleliciously unsustainable. (That said, the Premier League just sold rights in the Scandinavian region for the 2022-28 period to NENT for £2 billion total.)

“I’m not saying it will happen in the next cycle or when it will happen but eventually the Premier League will move to a mix of direct consumer and media rights sales. It is impossible to say when that will be.”

“We have every reason to be optimistic about the future of sports rights. I don’t think the bubble has burst because our business is effectively hedged between domestic performance and international performance.”

-Richard Masters; source: Guardian

What undoubtedly is a motivation however is to cut out the middle man and rake in the money for themselves from subscription fees — the idea being that if all these companies are willing to pay untold millions while still turning a profit themselves, there’s surely more money to be made by the source itself.

While we probably don’t need yet another streaming service in our lives, on-demand, a la carte entertainment is the future and the Premier League, who were on the forefront of the TV revolution, certainly won’t want to be left behind.