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RIP PPV? What happens next in pay-per-view debate

Newcastle United v Everton – Premier League – St James’ Park
(Image credit: Alex Pantling)

The unpopular pay-per-view model in the Premier League is set to be scrapped after this weekend’s matches, the PA news agency understands.

Here, PA takes a closer look.

– What’s the background?

The Premier League announced on October 9 that for the remainder of the month, matches which had not been selected for regular live broadcast by Sky Sports or BT Sport would be available to watch on one of those broadcasters’ box office services, at a cost of £14.95 per match. A broadcast solution had been required with fans still unable to attend matches due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pricing was immediately criticised by Sky’s own pundit Gary Neville and by the Football Supporters’ Association.

– What did the Premier League and the broadcasters say?

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters defended the PPV pricing

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters defended the PPV pricing (Mike Egerton/PA)

The league’s chief executive Richard Masters said the price was “defensible” while BT Sport said it was simply covering its costs in screening the matches.

– Where are we now?

Top-flight clubs met on Thursday and it is understood they favour ditching PPV after this month’s international break.

– Why have the clubs changed tack?

Supporters publicly boycotted the PPV matches, with many choosing to donate the money to charitable causes such as food banks instead. The situation regarding the virus is also different compared to a month ago, with the country now in a second lockdown.

– What happens next?

Conversations will take place between the league and its broadcast partners, who must agree to a different approach. The Premier League will not put a timescale on when it will be in a position to formally announce any change, but the Premier League does not return until November 21 after this weekend.

– So PPV still applies this weekend?

Yes. The PPV games this weekend are Brighton v Burnley, Crystal Palace v Leeds, West Ham v Fulham, West Brom v Tottenham and Arsenal v Aston Villa.

– What will they do instead, with fans still not able to attend matches?

The Leicester v Burnley match on September 20 was live on the BBC

The Leicester v Burnley match on September 20 was live on the BBC (Rui Vieira/PA)

It is understood the clubs favour a return to the model which was in place in September, when the 2020-21 season started. In that month, 11 out of 28 matches which had not already been selected for regular live broadcast were split between broadcast partners Sky (six games), BT (three games), Amazon and the BBC (one each). So it raises the prospect of at least some matches being available free to air.

– Could PPV come back?

A review of broadcast arrangements will take place in the new year, but given how deeply unpopular pay-per-view proved, it seems unlikely it would be resurrected even at a lower price.