Sky's Premier League victory could see Rupert Murdoch bowing out just at the right time

 
Oliver Gill
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Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League
English Premier League TV rights between 1992 and 1997 were worth £191m (Source: Getty)

Investors were clearly happy with Sky’s Tuesday night Premier League result, pushing the company's shares to nearly £11 a pop during yesterday's trading.

The broadcasting giant's stock eventually ended the day 7p higher than the £10.75 a share tabled by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

With the majority of Premier League TV rights decided, Sky has retained its dominant position in the UK at the heart of the world’s most popular sporting competition.

The media behemoth won four of the five main packages (two minor bundles are yet to be sold). Together with BT, £4.4bn has been raised by the Premier League for the three years from 2019. Experts say it is highly unlikely the £5.1bn fetched last time around will now be topped.

Importantly for Sky, Tuesday’s deal sees it paying £9.3m a game. This is a big fall from the £11m it splashed in a panic back in 2015, when it feared BT was about to park its tank on the Brentford-based firm’s well-manicured lawn.

Read more: Sky stock rises after Premier League TV win: Will Fox have to up its offer?

Tech And Media Elites Attend Allen And Company Annual Meetings In Idaho
Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is vying to buy the 61 per cent Sky it does not own (Source: Getty)

War

But while Sky has won this week's battle, some analysts are concerned it may not have won the war.

However unattractive they were to some, a Sky satellite dish used to be a sign that those living inside were enjoying the ultimate in elite entertainment.

But viewing habits have changed. No longer do families fight for the best position on the sofa to watch a "Super Sunday" game or the latest episode of the Simpsons.

Netflix and Amazon streaming allows binge viewing from the bedroom and catch-up TV on the train.

Over the last 20 years, the likes of Setanta and ONdigital have tried and failed to compete with Sky.

But a new reality of tech giants, rich in expertise and with deep pockets, represents a much more potent proposition.

And while £9m a game will feel like comparatively small beer compared to the previous auction's outcome, £3.5bn over three years is nonetheless a huge investment in a rapidly evolving market.

Murdoch’s takeover of Sky now appears a temporary measure. Assuming the deal is given the regulatory green light, he will book profits months later by sealing a $60bn sale to Disney.

With Sky riding high, but with existential threats to its business model growing by the year. this might prove to be a clever time for the 86-year-old to get out of an increasingly tough market.

Read more: Sky and BT Sport pay £4.46bn to share Premier League TV rights

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