Sky Sports virtual monopoly of live English football since 1992 appears to be over following BT’s decision to fork out £897 million to secure exclusive rights to broadcast the Champions' and Europa Leagues for three seasons from 2015 to 2018. The big winners in all of this are obviously UEFA, who will receive €1,075,981,484.31 over the 3 year period from TV networks throughout the world.
Some may argue that Sky have seen this all before. Setanta Sports arrival in the live football market in mid-2000s was supposed to herald the end of Sky’s monopoly. Setanta’s decision to pay £5 million for exclusive rights to screen England's away qualifier with Croatia on 10 September 2008 was further evidence of their increased muscle. It didn’t last. On 22 June 2009 Setanta GB entered administration and most of its channels ceased operations within Great Britain later that day.
So why would this be any different?
ITV had offered £220m for the 2015 to 2018 package which cost them £155m in 2012. Sky are believed to have offered in excess of £500m for exclusivity, but BT smashed both bids and paid close to a £1bn. Whether this is money well spent or that start of a Setanta style gamble remains to be seen. The problem for Sky is that BT are a different animal to Setanta simply because their annual revenue of £18.3bn dwarfs Sky’s £7.2bn.
With the likes of Al Jazeera, Apple and Google queuing up to bid for the rights to the Premier League, our days of subscribing to Sky Sports may be drawing to a close.