Ofcom has closed its investigation into how the Premier League sells live UK rights for its football matches.
The investigation, carried out under the Competition Act 1998, considered whether the selling arrangements of the Premier League restricted or distorted competition.
The regulator has taken in into account the Premier League’s recent decision to increase the number of matches available for live broadcast in the UK to a minimum of 190 per season.
The change, which will be implemented from the start of the 2019/20 season, will see at least 22 matches per season added to the current deal.
The next auction will include a ‘no single buyer’ rule, which means that more than one broadcaster must be awarded rights. At least 42 matches per season will be reserved for a second buyer, of which a minimum of 30 will be available for broadcast at the weekend.
Ofcom also took into account the results of consumer research it carried out to understand the preferences of match-going fans and those watching on TV in relation to Premier League matches.
A fifth of fans said they wanted to see more matches televised live, with a similar proportion saying they were happy with the overall number of matches broadcast live, but wanted to see different matches shown.
Among match-going fans, a high proportion said that the day of the week and kick-off time was of high importance, with over two-thirds of this group identifying the Saturday 3pm kick off as their preferred time to attend.
Ofcom stated, “We believe that a balance would need to be struck between the potential benefits of releasing more matches for live broadcast, and the potential disruption on match-going fans due to these games being rescheduled to be broadcast outside of the ‘closed period’.”
The closed period is between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on a Saturday, allowing for fans to attend a live match at 3pm, sandwiched between televised early and late kick-offs, typically at 12.30pm and 5.30pm.