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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK
Setanta joins Premiership action
Arsenal player Ashley Cole
Live sports matches are vital to Sky's UK operations
Irish pay-TV firm Setanta has broken BSkyB's monopoly of live Premier League football matches, winning the rights to show 46 matches per season from 2007.

But BSkyB has been given 92 live matches, including the "A" package of games on late Sunday afternoons.

The broadcasters will show the matches on a subscription basis during the three seasons from August 2007.

The TV rights auction generated 1.7bn ($3.1bn) for the Premier League, with BSkyB paying 1.3bn and Setanta 392m.

Cash for clubs

The Premier League is earning 65% more from the deal than the exclusive one it signed with BSkyB three years ago, but said this was because the rights are now more valuable.

"For the first time these are platform-neutral rights available for exploitation on wider technology," said chief executive Peter Scudamore.

"We think the increase is because these rights are available to be simulcast on broadband or other platforms. They are no longer just television rights."

The deal means BSkyB is paying about 4.8m per game and Setanta 2.8m.

It will also mean even more TV money for the 20 Premier League clubs.

Legal threat

The Premier League divided the live TV rights into six packages of 23 matches, which were auctioned in two batches.

BSkyB was able to bid for all the packages, but could only be awarded five of them.

Package A: 23 matches shown at 1600 on Sunday
Package B: 23 matches shown at 1330 on Sunday
Package E: 23 matches shown at 1245 on Saturday
Package F: seven to 13 matches on midweek evenings/bank holidays, 10 to 16 at 1245 on Saturday and 1600 on Sunday

The European Commission had threatened the Premier League with legal action if it did not ensure that rival broadcasters were given a slice of live TV matches.

BSkyB has ended up with 92 live matches a season, which it will show as part of its Sky Sports package.

This figure is down from the 138 matches it has in its current deal, 88 of which are available on Sky Sports, the rest on a pay-per-view basis.

BSkyB owns the current packages of live matches after agreeing a 1.024bn deal with the Premier League in 2003.

The satellite broadcaster has held the live rights to Premiership football in England since 1992, a position which has helped it become Britain's leading pay-TV service.

Package C: minimum of 12 matches at 2000 on Monday, the rest either at 1330 on Sunday or 1715 on Saturday or other times
Package D: minimum of 18 matches at 1715 on Saturday, the rest either at 1330 on Sunday, 2000 on Monday or other times

Setanta is 40% owned by private equity group Benchmark Capital and is carried by the Sky satellite pay-TV platform.

It said it would try to carry its matches on as many platforms as possible, and did not rule out Freeview digital TV , which has a top-up pay service.

Cable TV operator NTL is thought to have been among the other bidders for the new set of rights.

Other Premiership rights, including mobile rights, television highlights packages and overseas rights, will be determined separately.

Hear details about the deal

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14 Nov 05 |  Business
Sky set to lose football monopoly
18 Oct 05 |  Business

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