Broadcasters to battle for Premier League TV rights

<p>The Premier League has opened the bidding process for TV rights from the 2016/17 season.</p>

The Premier League is set to schedule football matches on Friday nights as part of the new TV rights offering.

Broadcasters will be able to bid for seven packages totalling 168 live matches, up from the current 154 matches, from season 2016/17 to 2018/19. As part of the new deal up to ten Friday night games will be offered meaning Premier League match weekends could potentially be spread over four days from Friday to Monday.

Sky has long had a dominance over the Premier League currently showing 116 games a season, with just 38 being given to BT. However, the latter has been battling back considerably of late and secured all rights to the Champions League from 2015.

BT paid £897 million for a three-year broadcast deal which allows it to exclusively broadcast Champions League and Europa League matches. The deal, which boasts 350 fixtures, is currently shared between Sky and ITV and represents the first time a single UK broadcaster has secured a deal of this ilk.

The Premier League confirmed that while the new deal would include the introduction of Friday night matches there would be a continued protection of the Saturday 15:00 GMT "closed period". This prevents broadcasts of traditional kick-off times and is aimed at helping to boost attendances.

BBC Sport's hold over the Football League highlights package is also under threat with Channel 5 expected to win a three-year deal. The BBC's Football League Show is set to be discontinued as C5 is confirmed as the preferred bidder. In a £2 million contract, C5 will also get rights to screen Capital One Cup highlights as well.

It will come as a major blow to the BBC's operations as it also fights ITV to keep its famous Match of the Day programme as its rival battles for the Premier League highlights package.

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