While the Premier League announced that all 28 matches scheduled to be played in September were to be broadcast live via existing partners Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC, its latest fixture allocation will see the number of televised games slashed despite fans remaining sidelined.
This includes the reimposition of the 3pm fixture blackout, which prevents games from being televised between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on Saturdays, is in place “primarily to protect match attendances and atmosphere at all levels of the game including lower league and non-league matches,” according to the Premier League’s website.
Before broadcasting extra games in September, the Premier League stated it would return to only showing selected games during the 2020/21 season in keeping with the most recent rights auction, which saw Sky Sports purchase the rights to 128 Premier League fixtures per season, BT Sport pick up 52 games and Amazon Prime Video a package of 20.
In line with the Premier League’s revised fixture schedule across the last weekend of September and first week of October in light of the Government’s 10pm pub curfew, midweek games will continue to kick off early to give fans the opportunity to watch games before pubs close.
Yet, while pubs will be able to show the first Merseyside derby of the season on 17 October, Gareth Bale’s potential Premier League return and trips for Arsenal and Chelsea to Old Trafford, the continued absence of match going fans combined with fewer available fixtures will leave many operators facing financial hardship.
Speaking to The Morning Advertiser (The MA) in September, a number of matchday pub operators explained that behind closed doors home fixtures yielded between just 10% and 20% of usual trading brought by their local Premier League side’s games.
As previously reported by The MA, Sky Sports’ pub pricing returned to pre-Covid levels on 1 September – though customers who are not authorised to open due to local restrictions will be exempt according to the broadcaster.
What’s more, BT Sport recently announced its ‘Back to Business’ customer discount which will see a phased increase of partner payments.
While the broadcaster offered its service for free during July, and at a 70% discount in August, its discount dictates that customer payments will increase on a monthly basis until the end of year, when standard charges will resume.
However, while Amazon Prime Video revealed its Premier League fixture allocation on 20 August, the web giant was unable to make high flying Everton’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on 26 September available to pub operators.
“We are working with our partner BT Sport in regards to the plans for the rest of our games for the 2020/21 season,” a spokesperson from Amazon explained.
Televised fixtures in full
Saturday 17 October
12.30pm - Everton v Liverpool (BT Sport)
5.30pm - Man City v Arsenal (Sky Sports)Sunday 18 October
2pm - Crystal Palace v Brighton (Sky Sports)
4.30pm - Spurs v West Ham (Sky Sports)Monday 19 October
8pm - Leeds v Wolves (Sky Sports)Saturday 24 October
12.30pm - West Ham v Man City (BT Sport)
5.30pm - Man Utd v Chelsea (Sky Sports)
Sunday 25 October
2pm - Southampton v Everton (Sky Sports)
4.30pm - Wolves v Newcastle (Sky Sports)Monday 26 October
8pm - Burnley v Spurs (Sky Sports)Saturday 31 October
12.30pm - Sheffield Utd v Man City (BT Sport)
5.30pm - Liverpool v West Ham (Sky Sports)
Sunday 1 November
2pm - Newcastle v Everton (Sky Sports)
4.30pm - Man Utd v Arsenal (Sky Sports)Monday 2 November
8pm - Leeds v Leicester (Sky Sports)