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Liverpool could see £30m improvement from TV merger which challenges Disney – Liverpool Echo

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https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/liverpool-30m-tv-merger-disney-20620354

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For the Premier League and its member clubs, securing the broadcasting rights for 2022-2025 on the same deal as the previous three-year cycle represents good business.

With the pandemic having a major impact on clubs and broadcasters owing to the changing schedules and diminished experience of watching owing to no fans being present in stadiums clubs had feared that should the rights go to auction then the price would have been driven down.

As it happened, and after government approval was needed due to potential concerns over breaking competition rules, Sky, BT Sport and Amazon Prime Video all remain the domestic rights holders for the next three years, the deal once again standing at £4.5bn, with Liverpool and the rest of the Premier League bringing in £31.8m per season as part of the equal share of the domestic rights.

There had been reported interest from DAZN in bidding for the rights had they gone to auction, while there will likely be a clamour for what comes next in 2025 as football seeks to return to normality as it comes out of the pandemic.

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BT have announced they are mulling over the potential sale of their BT Sport business in order to focus more of their energy on their broadband business, and that could mean that someone bids for the BT Sport rights during the current cycle or waiting to take their place when the next round arrives in three years time.

The Premier League hope that broadcasting revenues will be stronger by the time the next cycle arrives, with clubs looking to bounce back financially after a period of such turmoil.

And while Sky, Amazon and DAZN will no doubt be the major players when that time arrives, there could well be a new media juggernaut at the negotiating table.

AT&T, which also owns the Warner Media Group, is in advanced talks to create a new company that would merge its media business with Discovery Inc in a multi-billion dollar deal to create a new media firm that would surpass Netflix in size and be just behind Disney.

Warner Media and Discovery generated nearly £29bn between them last year, their operating profit standing at around £7bn.

They would leapfrog NBC, who hold the Premier League rights in the US, and has been suggested that they would seek to broaden their sporting scope.

Discovery already owns Eurosport, while Turner Sports, part of the AT&T stable, holds domestic rights in the US for Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL and the hugely popular collegiate sports from the NCAA.

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A merger opens up the potential to create new streaming platforms or make use of the tools they already own.

With Discovery already having a footprint in European sport through Eurosport there would likely be interest in being at the table when the Premier League rights come back around, especially with fans shifting towards streaming and over-the-top media platforms to watch games.

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Recent years have seen American owners arrive into the Premier League owing to the product, when compared with how cost prohibitive it can be to acquire or invest in major sporting franchises across the Atlantic, being deemed to be heavily undervalued.

And US broadcasters, too, may feel that. With BT Sport likely to step away as they consider selling up that side of the business, in order for broadcasting revenues to be driven up, and for clubs to receive more money, there needs to be strong competition at the negotiating table to fight over the rights.

Netflix have so far kept sports at arms length, but a merger between AT&T’s businesses and Discovery, both of which already have specific sporting interests, presents the very real chance of creating a new platform that could challenge for sporting broadcasting rights in Europe.

The Premier League TV deal has fallen by £600m from its high 2015 watermark and some analysts have predicted a period of stagnation.

But getting the same deal despite the uncertainty of the pandemic and all that has happened in the past year or so will give the Premier League and its member clubs some hope that they will be able to drive the number forward by the time that 2025 arrives, and having a major new player that potentially could come to the table would be a huge boost in trying to achieve that goal.

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