BSkyB grabs more Premier League rights

Sky Sports edges out Setanta, now has five of six packages

LONDON -- BSkyB has picked up a further package of rights to live Premier League soccer Friday, beating rival Setanta Sports and giving Sky Sports five out of the six packages of rights for the next three years, for a total of 1.62 billion pounds ($2.4 billion).

The News Corp.-backed satcaster announced this week that it had paid about 1.3 billion pounds ($1.85 billion) for four packages of the top league live soccer games and said Friday that it had picked up a fifth.

Each of the packages auctioned includes rights to broadcast 23 matches per season, giving Sky Sports the rights to 115 matches per season and Setanta Sports rights to 23 matches per season over the next three years.

Irish pay TV operator Setanta Sports, which won two packages in the last auction three years ago, has been left with just one package of rights for matches in the forthcoming 2010-2013 season, in a move that will prove a blow to its programming plans.

Setanta is thought to have paid about 159 million pounds ($236 million) for the 23-match per season package.

BSkB chief executive Jeremy Darroch said the new deals would guarantee Sky's top-tier sports coverage.

"We are very pleased with this result. It gives us certainty for the future and ensures that we can continue to offer our viewers the best live Premier League football," he said.

Setanta, which is backed by private equity investors Benchmark Capital and Goldman Sachs, now faces a challenge to hold onto its customers with only half the amount of Premier League soccer next year.

Under European Commission rules on broadcaster can hold more than five of the six packages of rights available.