New Virgin Media report calls for #MoreBalls for UK football fans

8th January 2016

Why the Premier League’s auction of live TV rights for football is against the interests of fans.

The spiralling prices paid to the Premier League for the rights to show football live on TV, up 71% at the last auction, begs many questions: not least whether those farthest from the top, the grassroots and the fans, benefit sufficiently from the large amounts of money in the game.

Using our own commissioned research, as well as publicly available information, we have produced a report which investigates the facts behind this gulf. 

The full report is available to view and download here.

Ultimately, we want an open and informed debate as to whether the benefit provided to fans by the Premier League sufficiently outweighs the consumer harm relating to price increases.

The Premier League drives up the price of football by selling live TV rights on an exclusive basis and only allowing 41% of all games to be televised live.

Rising prices: Since 1992 the price of Premier League TV rights has risen by more than 4,000%. The last auction raised £5.14bn, a 71% increase on the previous auction. These costs are ultimately borne by consumers. A recent survey of 1,000 fans, commissioned by Virgin Media, shows that two-thirds believe there’s a connection between the Premier League’s auction and the amount of money in their pockets. The rising costs of Premier League live TV rights means consumers will pay too much to watch live football.

Fans are missing games: Fans are unable to watch their favourite teams live on TV because the Premier League does not allow games to be broadcast at 3pm on Saturdays. Our survey shows that 77% want more live Premier League games on TV.

Fans living abroad get a better deal: The Premier League allows broadcasters across the world - from Algeria to Iran - to televise all games live on TV. Yet it limits the number of games shown live in the UK, the home of football.

Competition: The Premier League justifies its auction structure through a self-determined exemption from competition law. To maintain this exemption the Premier League needs to demonstrate that consumers are benefiting.