English Soccer U.K. TV Rights Could Reach $7 Billion

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Soccer is a huge and growing business. Deloitte calculates England's Premier League, in which Man U plays, will be worth $3.3 billion this year, compared with "just" $850 million in 1996.

The world's most popular soccer league unveils Friday night matches as part of new tender

The English Premier League, the most-watched soccer league in the world, has published the tender document for the next U.K. TV rights auction, outlining plans expected to see the deal easily top its current total price of $3 billion.

Starting August 2016, the EPL will make 14 more live matches available, bringing the total to 168, which will be divided into five packages of 28 matches and two of 14.

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Another major change is the introduction of Friday night games, with one of the packages included up 10 live matches per season.

The EPL has also stipulated that no single buyer can amass more than 126 games.

Pay-TV giant Sky, a majority of which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, and BT Sports, part of the BT Group, currently own the EPL rights. Sky paid $3.6 billion in 2012 for 116 live matches a season in a three-year deal, with BT picking up the other 38 for $1.1 billion. NBCUniversal's NBC Sports Group currently have the exclusive U.S. rights.

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Sky and BT are expected to again clash for the match rights, but newcomers such as the Qatar-owned beIN SPORTS are expected to push the price higher. Analysts in October suggested the total figure for the seven packages could increase by as much as 60 percent to $7 billion.

The new tender also includes a free-to-air highlights package. U.K. broadcaster ITV is expected to challenge the BBC for the rights, which could threaten the corporation’s long-standing soccer show Match of the Day, this year celebrating it’s 50-year anniversary.

The rights auction will take place in early 2015.