Sky TV loses rights to English Premier League football

By Daniel Richardson

Sky TV has lost the rights to screen next season's English Premier League and it is believed a new player to the market won the bid to broadcast to the popular football competition.

It's understood that international media rights company MP & Silva holds the rights to the league and has accepted a bid from an offshore-based consortium which is likely to screen the Premier League as well as the French first division and Italy's Serie A.

The competitions could be broadcast either online or via another television box.

The new start-up is likely to charge a subscription in the vicinity of $180-200 per annum but the main selling point is that punters can watch any game they choose rather than be dictated to by television schedules.

Sky insisted it did all it could to ensure football fans in New Zealand would be able to watch the Premier League this season.

"It is not like we didn't desperately want it," Sky spokeswoman Kirsty Way told APNZ. "We put in a very high bid, our highest bid for it. So we are really disappointed. We'll have to wait and see what happens and see what the plans are for it."

Sky posted a statement on its website this evening which tried to assure its 900,000-strong subscriber base that it would strive to broadcast top-level football in the future.

"We are extremely disappointed to have missed out and seek to assure our football loving subscribers that this does not signal a change in our wishes to secure the best football matches that we can for you," the statement said.

"Last week we concluded our biggest ever deal with Football New Zealand to cover All Whites and Football Ferns matches, we will continue to show Wellington Phoenix and other A-League matches and through ESPN we will continue to have coverage of the Champions League. Over the coming weeks we expect to announce more new football coverage."

It was thought that new Kiwi channel Sommet Sports would be the likely rights holders when it was confirmed that Sky had missed out but it wasn't successful in its pitch to broadcast the Premier League either.

Sommet posted a message on its Twitter account this evening, which said: "Sommet doesn't have EPL, we came second in the bidding, MP & Silva sold the rights to an internet start up called colosseum [sic]".

- APNZ

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