Investors give Sky yellow card over £4bn deal

Sky is seen as being less 'disciplined' than rival BT. Picture: Getty
Sky is seen as being less 'disciplined' than rival BT. Picture: Getty
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SKY’S record-breaking deal for the latest round of English Premier League football rights has undermined the broadcaster’s share price amid worries about funding its ongoing battle with BT for sporting supremacy.

The two firms have agreed to pay a combined £5.14 billion to show 168 live matches between 2016 and 2019, an increase of 70 per cent on the previous deal.

Sky, headed by chief executive Jeremy Darroch, bore the brunt of these increases as it shelled out £4.2bn to retain five of the seven rights packages available. It will show 126 matches each season, up from 116 currently.

Shares in the group closed down 21p, or 2.2 per cent, at 933p yesterday.

BT picked up four additional games for a total of 42, which it will air along with Champions League, FA Cup and other matches secured under separate deals. It will pay £960 million under the new Premier League agreement, and its shares ended the session up 16.2p, or 3.7 per cent, at 460p.

Analyst Stephen Williams of Brewin Dolphin said that, after allowing for the increase in games, Sky will pay slightly more than £11m for the rights to each match, an increase of 70 per cent on its current deal.

BT will shell out £7.6m for each of its Premier League games. This is 30 per cent more than the telecoms giant currently pays, although its number of “first picks” falls from 18 to 12.

“BT will no doubt be looking rather more smug at the outcome as management stressed it ‘financial discipline’ and will not be spreading its financial resources too thinly now it has EE to integrate,” Williams said.

Sky said it would “work hard to minimise the impact of higher rights costs on customers”, with the majority of additional funding coming from internal efficiency savings.

But Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Richard Hunter said the group will have to work hard to keep its finances on track, adding: “BT has ended up with a good hand – Premiership, Champions League, FA Cup and European leagues all for a fraction of the annual cost that Sky is paying for its Premiership position.”