June 4, 2018 / 9:26 PM / 16 days ago

Soccer: Premier League accepts live rights bids from BT and new player - Telegraph

(Reuters) - The English Premier League has succeeded in attracting interest from a new online player to pay for live rights to top-flight football at a discounted price, The Telegraph bit.ly/2sCPFhT reported on Monday.

The two packages of matches which had failed to meet their reserve prices in a February auction have now been secured by BT Group Plc (BT.L) and a new rival whose identity is due to be unveiled at a meeting of top clubs on Thursday.

Speculation is still focused on Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O), the Telegraph reported citing industry sources.

Under this deal, the total number of live matches for BT will rise to 52 per season, up from 42 under its previous contract, the paper said.

Soccer chiefs had hoped interest from the online giants would spark a fierce bidding war in the auction earlier this year but the main packages were bought by the existing broadcasters, the Telegraph said.

Sky Plc (SKYB.L) secured a deal in February to pay 3.58 billion pounds to show 128 Premier League matches for three seasons from 2019-20 in a deal that ended rampant inflation in the value of the domestic rights for English top-flight soccer. BT secured rights to show 32 games a season.

The deals were designed to tempt online streaming services, after both Amazon and Facebook signalled interest in live sports rights.

Amazon secured UK and Ireland rights to broadcast the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, adding its first Grand Slam to a sports package that already includes action from the ATP World Tour.

The Premier League and BT were not available for a comment outside business hours.

Reporting by Rishika Chatterjee in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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