Premier League TV rights packages have rocketed in value by almost 4,000 per cent since the first live game was screened in 1992, but now the bubble looks set to burst and the wealth of the richest league in the world may be finally about to fall, say analysts.
The TV rights sold to UK and overseas broadcasters fetched a handy £232million in 1992, while the latest sales generated a whacking £9.1billion, a rise of 3,822 per cent.
Roy Keane celebrates as Nottingham Forest beat Liverpool 1-0 in the first live Premier League to be screened on Sky Sports in 1992
It’s true that the Premier League product has changed over almost three decades – there were only 60 games-a-season on sale domestically in a five-year deal in 1992 compared to 200-a-season in a three-year cycle, now – but by any yardstick, the growth is extraordinary.
Take cricket, which has also seen a huge increase in value, but it still lags far behind football. In 1994, a four-year broadcast package for English cricket cost £60m and the latest media rights, spanning digital, broadcast and radio for four years from 2020, were bought for £1.1bn, an increase of a mere 1,800 per cent.
Inflation over the same period has seen prices rise in the UK by 112 per cent, overall.
However, generally, what goes up has to come down and now experts are warning the top tier has passed its peak and the next sale of TV rights – which was expected to take place this month but has been delayed to the summer – will see broadcasters pay less when the new deals are done at the end of the season.
But don’t expect to make a saving if you subscribe to watch football.
Two icons were in the dugouts for Sky’s first televised Premier League game – Graeme Souness for Liverpool (L) and Brian Clough for Nottingham Forest (R)
Broadcasters are braced for a fall in subscriptions as the economic impact of Covid hits consumers, so there is little prospect of fees dropping for those who stay tuned in, say experts.
‘One thing that that will not be the case is a reduction in fees for viewers,’ Kieran Maguire, an expert in football finance at the University of Liverpool, told Sportsmail.
‘There will certainly be no reduction from broadcasters.
Sky Sports launched its Premier League coverage in 1992 with this picture and video (below)