Today marks the closing of the deadline for bids in the multi-billion pound auction for the UK TV broadcast rights of the Premier League.
The three seasons to 2019 of the most-watched football league in the world will certainly see BT and Sky battle it out for the coveted rights.
But with the added possibility of bids from US media giant Discovery and Qatar-owned beIN Sports – both rumoured to be preparing to enter the fray – the auction could be one of the costliest ever.
Last time the rights were auctioned BT and Sky together invested £3bn for their Premier League TV packages.
This time bids are expected to top at least £4bn as the competition for the rights heats up with BT using BT Sport to protect and grow its broadband business and Sky doing the same to protect its pay-TV empire.
“With so much at stake we can expect to see a frantic bidding process,” said CCS Insight director of multiplay and media Paolo Pescatore.
“In order to compete head on with Sky, BT must secure more games, while Sky needs to protect its lucrative pay TV business which helps it to discount and cross sell other services.”
Before Christmas the Premier League said it had opened up bidding for seven packages of live broadcasting rights (totalling 168 matches) as well as a free-to-air highlights package spanning the 2016-17 to 2018-19 football seasons.
The deadline for bids is understood to be today.