A probe into Premier League broadcast rights has been dropped

Lynsey Barber
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BT Sport and Sky paid billions for the 2016-19 Premier League game rights (Source: Getty)

A major probe into the rights to air Premier League football on UK television has been dropped by the regulator.

The two-year probe has been drawn to a close after Ofcom decided there was enough progress being made on making more games available to watch while football fans seemed largely happy.

The investigation was first launched in 2014 after a complaint by Virgin Media and Ofcom said it would look at whether the way the rights were sold distorted competition.

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The Premier League is already auctioning an additional 22 top-flight games for the 2019/20 season compared to last year. A survey of football fans found there were an equal number who said they were happy with the number of games aired as those who wanted to see more.

Ofcom also pointed toward the next round of bidding now including a "no single buyer" rule, meaning the rights must go to more than one broadcaster. It also noted the popularity of attending 3pm matches, games which are not aired on television under Football Association rules.

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The watchdog concluded that its time could be better spent elsewhere.

“In deciding to close this case, we have listened carefully to football fans themselves, who expressed a range of views about how many matches should be televised. We’ve also taken into account the Premier League’s decision to make more games available in future," said Ofcom competition group director Jonathan Oxley.

Sky and BT snapped up the rights in the last round of bidding, splashing more than £5bn on a three year deal which begins in less than a weeks time with the start of the latest season.

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