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EPL announces live matches increase for broadcasters from 2025-26 season

EPL announces live matches increase for broadcasters from 2025-26 season

The English Premier League has revealed plans to significantly increase the number of live matches available to UK broadcasters starting from the 2025-26 season.

The announcement came as the EPL issued invitations to tender for domestic rights covering a four-season period until 2028-29. The UK’s top-tier football league has introduced two separate standalone tenders for its UK live and near-live rights, along with free-to-air highlights rights. This marks a departure from the traditional three-year rights cycle.

The live rights comprise five packages, each containing between 42 and 65 matches per season, totalling 270 matches. No single buyer can acquire more than four of the five live packages available. The league will make all matches in the five midweek rounds per season and the final match round of each season (when all games are played simultaneously) available for live broadcast.

The established kick-off slots on Saturday at 12.30pm and 5.30pm, Sunday at 2pm and 4.30pm, as well as one 8pm slot on Monday (or Friday), will be retained and linked to one of the five live packages. All matches moved to a 2pm Sunday slot due to club participation in European competitions will be broadcast live, a first for the EPL.

Reports have also suggested that the league may introduce four additional televised matches on Sunday, including a new 6.30pm kick-off slot. These matches would be scheduled on Sundays between midday and 6.30pm.

However, the Premier League’s domestic tender has not challenged the 3pm fixture blackout on Saturdays, despite widespread calls for its removal. The league justifies this by stating that the increased number of matches will still protect the Saturday 3pm ‘closed period’, which encourages attendance and participation in football at all levels at the traditional time when matches are played in England.

In addition to the increased number of live matches, the Premier League aims to boost its TV revenue by offering near-live rights to 110 non-live matches per season for linear and on-demand viewing, alongside short-form clips rights to all 380 matches per season. The league also intends to offer its free-to-air highlights package.

This tender process marks the first time the Premier League has gone to market for domestic rights since 2018, as existing agreements with Sky, TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport) and Amazon were extended during the pandemic. These deals, which run until the end of the 2024-25 season, are valued at a combined £4.8 billion ($6 billion).

Currently, the 200 available games are split into seven packages shared between Sky, TNT Sports and Amazon. Sky is the dominant domestic rights holder, with four sets of rights, covering 128 matches per season. TNT Sports owns two packages, one for the Saturday 12:30pm kick-off and the other for two midweek rounds. Amazon secured one package that allows its Prime Video service to broadcast Boxing Day fixtures and a set of midweek games.

Sky and TNT Sports are anticipated to be significant bidders, and Amazon, along with global streaming service DAZN, may also join the competition. However, the reduced number of packages could make it challenging for Amazon to retain its rights unless it secures a larger share of the games.

The Premier League has followed the lead of Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 in offering broadcasters four-year contracts instead of the traditional three-year terms in their domestic tenders.

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