Premier League football will go up against Saturday night prime-time programming like Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor from 2019 onwards.
The Premier League announced today the packages which will be on offer to broadcasters in the next rights tender process for the three seasons from 2019-20 to 2021-22.
For the first time it includes eight matches to kick off at 7.45pm on a Saturday night, while the other major innovation is making three full midweek rounds of matches – plus a bank holiday round – available for viewing in a similar way to how Champions League coverage operates now.
The traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off will remain a ‘closed’ period for live coverage.
Seven packages will be on offer to broadcasters for live TV rights, totalling 200 matches per season. No single broadcaster will be allowed to acquire the rights to more than 148 matches in a single season.
Prime-time Premier League football on Saturday nights has been on the cards since being given the green light by club bosses in November, when they unanimously backed plans for the next set of domestic broadcast rights.
The last two sales of domestic rights have seen 70% increases in their value, taking the total to £5.1billion for the current three-year deal, which saw Sky Sports take the lion’s share of games and BT Sport acquire Saturday evening games.
Those two domestic giants are expected to compete for the majority of matches again, although there may also be interest from the likes of Amazon and Facebook.