BBC inks $242 mil deal for Premier soccer

Live match rights will be awarded next week

LONDON -- The BBC has paid 170 million pounds ($242 million) for a three-year deal to keep highlights of Premier League soccer on BBC1 -- a pact that head of sport Roger Mosey said is "level with its current contract" secured three years ago.

The deal comes ahead of next week's awarding of the Premier League live match rights packages, expected to be valued at about 2.7 billion pounds ($3.9 billion). BSkyB and Setanta are thought to be the main bidders for live rights in the U.K.

The BBC will have rights to show highlights of Premiership games on its "Match of the Day" Saturday and Sunday program from August 2010-13, director of sport Roger Mosey announced on his blog. It also will allow the BBC to put more of the soccer coverage online via the BBC Web site and the BBC iPlayer.

Mosey said that the deal is good value for the BBC and that "Match of the Day" audience numbers had grown to a record average of 3.8 million viewers a week.

"So we'll continue to tell the story of the Premier League for millions of fans," he wrote on the BBC editors' blog. "And for everyone who just sees 'Match of the Day' as part of the British weekend. Love it or hate it, you have to admit Saturday night on BBC1 wouldn't be the same without that theme tune."