After having a moan at Ofcom about the number of Premier League football matches that go untelevised in the UK each year, Virgin Media has inspired the regulator to look into the matter. Resorting to foreign streams for those 3pm kick offs may be a thing of the past, with Ofcom probing whether or not more matches could be broadcast.
Currently, less than half of the league's matches make their way (legally) onto TV, divvied up between Sky and BT. This bidding war is pushing the price of match rights up, and is having a knock-on effect for Virgin Media, which licences coverage from BT and Sky. Should more games be broadcast, Virgin Media might be able to grab some for itself, as well as pushing the price of all matches down, what with more going on sale. Unless this happens, Virgin Media anticipates the TV rights could become 60 per cent more expensive come the next auction, which would lead to more costly subscriptions for viewers.
It's a sticky position for the Premier League rights holders to be in. On one hand, they still want more bums on (pricey) seats in stadiums for the 3pm Saturday kick-offs, currently under a blanket blackout for British broadcasters. However, with many football fans now wise to the multiple ways you can stream international Premier League coverage over the web, it could be in the rights holders' interests to find ways to legally televise -- and monetise -- these games in the UK. [Ofcom]