Premier League Return: Broadcasters to Deliver Enhanced Coverage

The Premier League has confirmed that live matches will feature a wide range of broadcast enhancements when the 2019/20 season resumes this week.

Live video feeds featuring 16 supporters from each club will be made available to broadcasters for use on big screens in stadia during matches.

Clubs have also agreed to allow extra footage to be filmed inside the tunnel area and audio of the captains’ coin toss with the match officials.

The seating situated nearest the pitch will also be given a makeover, with specially designed covers placed over them to improve aesthetics and acoustics.

Both Sky Sports and BT Sport have already detailed measures that they will introduce to improve the coverage of matches played behind closed doors.

Sky is including team-specific crowd noise that has been created in conjunction with EA Sports FIFA to enhance the atmosphere at each game.

Viewers will have the opportunity to choose between the added sound option or watch the action purely with normal stadium noise.

The broadcaster is also introducing a new ‘Sky Sports Recap’ service, which will allow viewers to catch up on all the key highlights during live matches in a brief burst.

The ‘Sky Sports Fanzone’ will be a new feature on the firm’s website and app, allowing fans to watch selected matches with friends and family in a video room.

They will be able to interact with each other as the match unfolds and influence the crowd noise they hear on screen.

BT Sport is offering viewers the option to choose between different stadium sound options using the red button and is launching a ‘Watch Together’ feature via the app.

The enhancements should help to keep fans engaged during a period where Premier League clubs must play games in empty stadiums.

In addition to the loss of matchday income, the Premier League will also lose a significant amount of broadcast revenue after reaching an agreement with Sky over a rebate.

The Premier League has agreed to return £170m to Sky, although the payment will be deferred until the 2021/22 season.

Sky will pay its entire scheduled fees on time for the remainder of the current season and the next campaign, thus protecting the cash flow of Premier League clubs.

Rob Webster, managing director of Sky Sports, told the Financial Times: “The rebates mitigate the impact on our business from the lack of live sport over the past 12 weeks.

“The vast majority of rebate conversations have reached a conclusion where the sport itself is able to continue to thrive and to have funding certainty over the short to medium term.”

Additional rebates to other broadcasters will follow, with Premier League clubs told at their last meeting to brace themselves for a collective minimum hit of £330m.

There could be other issues further down the line, with industry experts predicting that future broadcast deals may not be as lucrative as the current agreements.

Most broadcasters have been impacted financially over the past few months and may need to cut their cloth accordingly when the next round of rights deals are negotiated.

Sky, BT and Amazon paid a combined £5 billion to screen Premier League matches in the UK between 2019 and 2022, but that figure is unlikely to be matched for the next deal.

“It’s too early to definitively look at how the sports market may evolve or have changed,” added Webster. “We need to get through this period first. Then, through a very clear lens, Sky will take a look at what the long-term investment may be for sport.”