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Sky shares fall after £2bn-plus Premier League TV deal

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Sky has seen its share price fall sharply today over fears that the pay-TV giant may have overpaid in its new £2bn-plus deal for Premier League television rights.

The Premier League yesterday closed the auction for the UK television and digital rights to 154 live games a season running from 2013/14 to 2015/16 - 16 more per season than currently broadcast.

Sky has held its position as the leading broadcaster of the league, after agreeing to pay £760m per annum for five packs totalling 116 live matches, up from the current deal level of £541m per season.

Stiff competition for the rights has meant that Sky will now have to pay a staggering £6.6m for each live game, up from £4.7m.

BT has picked up the remaining 38 games per season after beating current rights holder ESPN to the deal.

Sky will have to shell out a total of £2.28bn on the three-season Premier League deal, while BT will find its wallet lighter to the tune of £738 million.

Overall, the Premier League sold its TV rights for £3.084bn, a staggering 70% increase over the current deal value of £1.7bn, and providing a massive windfall for clubs in the league.

Shares in Sky fell around 8% in early trading today to 639p, effectively wiping more than £800m off its market value, as investors express concern that Sky may have overpaid for the rights.

Sky has also recently spent big on snapping up other high profile sports rights, such as Formula One from 2012 to 2018 (joint deal with the BBC), UEFA Champions League until 2015, and Scottish Premier League until 2017.

But Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive of Sky, feels that the coverage will allow Sky Sports to offer "unprecedented live action right across the schedule".

Alongside driving up satellite TV subscriptions, Sky also intends to unlock more revenues from the Premier League rights by making the coverage available on a pay-as-you-view basis via its new NOW TV service.

The internet-delivered offering will launch later in the year, as part of Sky's strategy to monetise its expensively acquired content among people who do not want pay-TV.

"We're pushing ahead with more original British content, extending our leadership as the UK's favourite triple play provider, and launching our new internet TV service, NOW TV, which will give us even more ways to distribute our content," said Darroch.

"In what was a very competitive tender process, we are pleased to have secured the combination of rights that we wanted, providing certainty for us and our customers.

"Whilst the cost is higher, we have capacity for this increase through the combination of excellent work on cost-efficiency across the business and choices over other future spending. As a result, we remain confident of delivering our financial plans, in line with our expectations, unchanged, in each year of the new deal."

Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis added: "The Premier League has never been more popular with our customers so it's excellent news that Sky Sports viewers will continue to enjoy the biggest and best games, including Super Sunday and Monday Night Football. Sky Sports viewers have never had so much choice of high quality action.

"Alongside the Premier League, we have long-term agreements in place to show the best in live sport, including UEFA Champions League football, European, Ryder Cup and US tour golf, Test and one-day cricket and Formula One. At the same time, we'll continue to innovate in providing the best coverage possible."

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