• news-banner

    Expert Insights

PremFlix: the Premier League’s plans to introduce a ‘Netflix-style’ OTT service

Few football fans suspected that Simon Jordan, the outspoken former chairman of Crystal Palace FC, would be vindicated when he proclaimed on talkSPORT that the Premier League should liberate itself from traditional broadcasting rights deals and become the “Netflix of football” i.e. be its own broadcaster. Yet Jordan’s prophecy appears close to (partially) coming true, as last week it was reported that English football’s top flight is developing plans to offer its own bespoke over-the-top (“OTT”) streaming service in some territories, which would see matches in these territories made available directly to fans, possibly as soon as 2022.

What is OTT?

OTT refers to the practice of streaming/making available content provided via an “over-the-top” internet connection, such as Netflix, as opposed to a telecom broadcaster. OTT is now synonymous with video-on-demand services that offer access to film and television content. More recently, broadcasters such as DAZN and Amazon have provided OTT service in a sporting context.

What is the Premier League’s current broadcasting model?

The Premier League currently sells broadcast rights to traditional broadcasters, such as Sky Sports, NBC and Canal+, and third-party streaming services, such as DAZN and Amazon Prime. The Premier League is extremely good at negotiating these traditional broadcast rights deals; the value of domestic and international rights for the 2019-2022 rights cycle reached £9.2 billion and last week, the Premier League sold its 2022-2028 pan-Nordic broadcast rights to NENT Group for £2 billion. Given this success, the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind - so why might want the Premier League want to launch its own OTT service to operate in certain territories?

The rationale for a move to OTT in some territories

Fundamentally, it comes down to generating revenue. Media reports suggest that the Premier League’s reasoning is that this means of broadcasting matches could generate more revenue if a direct-to-consumer OTT service is launched in certain territories. For example only, Singtel reportedly pays the Premier League £70 million a year for the 2019-2022 broadcast rights in Singapore, yet receives approximately £175 million a year as income from subscribers to its services. It does not take long to see that there is, theoretically, a lucrative opportunity here for the Premier League; if no other broadcast rights were granted in Singapore, it could stream directly to Singaporean fans and everything being equal, it could generate substantial additional revenue. Indeed, the Premier League reportedly came very close to trialling its own OTT service in some countries, including Singapore, for the 2019-2022 rights cycle. An OTT service might also be viable in territories where broadcast rights are under-exploited i.e. territories where the Premier League is not currently broadcast or territories where there is minimal broadcasting, such as one game per week, provided that the infrastructure is there to support it.

What could the consequences of a partial move to OTT be?

1. Revenue: the Premier League and its clubs value the safety of traditional media rights deals as they receive guaranteed, predictable and sizeable broadcast payments from the Premier League. Because of this, broadcast revenue is a key component of the relative financial advantage that Premier League clubs have over their competitors in La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga. If the Premier League were to introduce its own OTT service in some territories, it would become partially reliant on consumers for subscriptions, which puts more risk on the Premier League and, by extension, its clubs as some of its broadcast revenue would not be guaranteed or predictable. Therefore, the Premier League would need to be convinced of the long-term commercial advantages.

2. Compliance with the AVMS Directive: any OTT service made available within the EU would have to comply with the EU’s new Audiovisual Media Services (“AVMS”) Directive, which creates a new regulatory framework for broadcasters and providers of audiovisual content in the EU. Amongst other things, the AVMS Directive will introduce measures to better protect minors against harmful online content and inappropriate advertising (alcohol and HFSS foods are specifically mentioned). Following a consultation in May 2019, the Government has announced that it plans to implement the AVMS Directive into UK law by September 2020. Other territories also have their own specific regulations so if the Premier League assumed the role of the local provider, it may have to comply with different regulations across the selected territories.

3. Resources: the Premier League would be taking on potentially large production costs such as studio presentation, preview and review programming, distribution and international programming (assuming the status quo is maintained in this country and licensees continue to produce match coverage). It would also have to market the OTT service in the territories that it selects to generate subscribers.

4. “Off-season” content: the Premier League season runs from mid-August to mid-May so it would be a challenge for the Premier League to create content in the “off-season” period so that subscribers retain their subscriptions. If not, subscribers will be likely to cancel their subscriptions and would need to be persuaded to re-subscribe. In contrast, streaming services such as Netflix can offer almost unlimited content at all times which would likely place a future OTT service at a competitive disadvantage.

Final comments

This week, the Premier League’s executive director Bill Bush said that the Premier League will continue to favour broadcast rights deals for the foreseeable future. Perhaps this shows that the Premier League is mindful, at least in the short-term, of the risks attached to partially moving away from what has been a successful broadcasting model. Yet, as the popularity of the Premier League continues to grow among international audiences, the temptation for it to break the tried and tested status quo and implement an OTT service in some targeted territories will surely increase.

Our thinking

  • Women in Leadership: Planning for the future

    Sarah Wigington

    Events

  • Planning and Life Sciences: the challenges and opportunities in the Golden Triangle

    Sophie Willis

    Quick Reads

  • Personnel Today quotes Rose Carey on Italy’s new digital nomad visa

    Rose Carey

    In the Press

  • Essential Intelligence – UAE Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    Sara Sheffield

    Insights

  • IFA Magazine quotes Julia Cox on the possibility of more tax cuts before the general election

    Julia Cox

    In the Press

  • ‘One plus one makes two': Court of Protection finds conflict of interest within law firm structure

    Katie Foulds

    Insights

  • City AM quotes Charlotte Duly on Tesco’s Clubcard rebrand after losing battle with Lidl

    Charlotte Duly

    In the Press

  • Michael Powner writes for Raconteur on AI and automating back-office roles

    Michael Powner

    In the Press

  • Arbitration: Getting value for your money

    Daniel McDonagh

    Insights

  • Portfolio Adviser quotes Richard Ellis on the FCA's first public findings against former fund manager Neil Woodford

    Richard Ellis

    In the Press

  • eprivateclient quotes Sally Ashford on considerations around power of attorney

    Sally Ashford

    In the Press

  • Michael Powner and Sophie Rothwell write for Law360 on anti-bias protection

    Michael Powner

    In the Press

  • Computer says No - my prediction of UK border chaos on Wednesday 1 January 2025

    Paul McCarthy

    Quick Reads

  • Providing pro bono support on social housing issues

    Susan Field

    Insights

  • Charles Russell Speechlys Partner Promotions 2024

    Bart Peerless

    News

  • Has a new route to recovery opened up for victims of banking payment frauds?

    Katie Bewick

    Insights

  • Charles Russell Speechlys boosts its Real Estate offering with the arrival of Kim Lalli and Rafe Courage

    Kim Lalli

    News

  • Cosmopolitan quotes Sarah Jane Boon on how to deal with break-up admin

    Sarah Jane Boon

    In the Press

  • Property Patter: Building and Fire Safety Miniseries - part 1

    Michael O'Connor

    Podcasts

  • Sex discrimination at work

    Michael Powner

    Insights

  • Daniel Sullivan writes for Law360 on hundreds of 'rogue filings' being lodged via Companies House and advice for affected banks

    Daniel Sullivan

    In the Press

  • The Financial Times, The Guardian and City AM quote Sophie Dworetzsky and Dominic Lawrance on Labour’s proposed tax crackdown on non-doms

    Sophie Dworetzsky

    In the Press

  • London’s Knowledge Clusters: From Emerging to Maturing – Start Ups on the Global Stage?

    Lynsey Inglis

    Quick Reads

  • Fashion and the Green Claims Code brought into focus by open letter from the CMA.

    Ilona Bateson

    Quick Reads

  • Will new powers at Companies House stop or slow down fraudsters?

    Peter Carlyon

    Quick Reads

  • Charles Russell Speechlys hosts international arbitration event in Dubai

    Peter Smith

    Quick Reads

  • It’s not just a High Court decision, it’s a successful M&S High Court Decision

    Sophie Willis

    Quick Reads

  • The Paul Pogba Ban - what happens now?

    Danielle Sharkey

    Quick Reads

  • The ongoing fight against fakes

    Charlotte Duly

    Quick Reads

  • Abu Dhabi’s New Arbitral Centre Unveils its Rules

    Dalal Alhouti

    Quick Reads

  • New Regulations for the UAE’s Media Sector in 2024

    Mark Hill

    Quick Reads

  • Planning essentials case update: when can an enforcement notice against an unlawful use also require the removal of related structures?

    Sadie Pitman

    Quick Reads

  • Under the Influence: Legal Considerations for Social Media Influencer Partnerships in the UAE

    Mark Hill

    Quick Reads

  • EU AI Act – Will it become a law for all the world?

    Nick White

    Quick Reads

  • Ctrl + GCC: The Rise of e-Sports in the Gulf

    Mark Hill

    Quick Reads

  • Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill: Will new consumer protection rules restrict access to Gift Aid?

    Quick Reads

  • The End of the SAG-AFTRA Strike & What it Means for the Middle East

    Mark Hill

    Quick Reads

  • Driving Growth & Innovation with Pan-African Sports Industry Leaders

    Adrian Mayer

    Quick Reads

  • UAE Strengthens its Position as Leading Destination for A.I.

    Mark Hill

    Quick Reads

  • Dubai Court of Cassation Extends Arbitration Agreement Across Subsequent Contracts

    Peter Smith

    Quick Reads

Back to top