Online giant Amazon has today bought the rights to 20 live Premier League matches per season.
The newcomer won one of the final two tranches of broadcast rights for three seasons from 2019 and says this will come at no extra cost to Amazon Prime members. The remaining 180 games go to BT and Sky.
Since its inception in 1992, traditional pay-TV companies like Sky and later BT Sport have dominated the rights to screen live Premier League matches. Amazon's purchase represents the first time live games have gone to an online service, although the price Amazon paid wasn't revealed.
BT said it paid £90m for 20 midweek fixtures during this year's auction, which gives an indication as to how much Amazon may have bid. This brings the total to £4.55bn for three seasons of live Premier League football.
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What does this mean for Premier League fans?
With such astronomical prices being paid for football rights, the expense is usually passed on to the fans in the form of high subscription costs. Unsurprisingly, today's sale will only add to the cost of watching football as you'll now require an Amazon Prime membership, as well as a BT Sport and Sky (or Now TV) subscription to watch every televised match.
Currently, Amazon Prime costs £7.99/mth or £79/yr with the option of a 30-day free trial. If you add this to the £33.99/mth for Sky Sports (via Now TV) and the £9/mth BT Sport deal (if you have BT broadband), it works out to be a whopping £595 per year, more than the cost of a season ticket at most Premier League clubs.
Amazon has bought two complete sets of weekly fixtures meaning that for the first time ever in the UK you'll be able to watch every match of those rounds live. Regardless of which Premier League team you support, you'll see them all in action over both weeks. The first ten fixtures will come midweek in December with second ten falling on Boxing Day.
Members will also have access to Premier League highlights throughout the season adding to Amazon's portfolio of live sports, including US Open and ATP tour tennis as well as NFL. This is alongside an already impressive and ever-growing collection of TV shows and films available to stream, not to mention its next-day delivery service.
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How to watch football for less
Unless you're a student and qualify for half-price Amazon Prime membership, you're unlikely to find a discount for this service. If you're new to Amazon Prime, and they're still offering 30-day free trials when the football package kicks in, you could take that trial during December 2019 and avoid having to pay any extra for Premier League football that season.
From time to time, Sky and Sky-owned Now TV run promotions, offering discounts of up to 60% off TV packages and BT often offers 'free' BT Sport with its TV or broadband packages, too, so check out our Cheap Digital TV guide and Broadband Unbundled to help you find the right TV package for you. Retailers like Currys and PC World also sell discounted Now TV Sports passes, so check there also.
The bottom line is watching Premier League football is never going to be cheap so always consider how desperately you need to watch every match before taking out a pricey subscripton. It may suit you better to pay for the odd Sky Sports day pass from Now TV at £7.99 or a week pass for £12.99. You may even be better off watching matches down the pub or just making do with the highlights or live FA Cup and international championships shown on terrestrial TV.