The Premier League is considering making dramatic changes to selling its broadcast rights across Europe which will force fans outside UK to pay a premium to watch games.
TV rights for the Premier League have previously been sold individually to broadcasters in different countries which has meant that viewers in the UK can watch games via foreign broadcasters using cheaper services than it sells.
Following the case of an English pub landlady showing football games to her patrons using a Greek decoder, costing her about one-tenth of the price she would have had to pay to BSkyB, the European Union's highest court ruled that rights-holders can't block foreign viewers from watching those games via cheaper overseas broadcasters. Sky paid more than $2.5 billion for the current contract.
The outcome is that the Premier League is considering selling its next set of television rights on a Europe-wide basis. That would allow the winning bidders to set the subscription costs for viewers in each country throughout the continent, either by launching channels in territories where they do not already broadcast or by sub-licensing the rights to local networks.
"One of the implications of the (European Court of Justice) decision is that we are still working on whether we might sell the rights on a pan-European basis," Chief Executive of the Premier League Richard Scudamore said. "We are still actually deliberating whether ... with the freedom of movement it's actually more applicable and you would actually get better protection or a better return if you sold on a pan-European basis."
The latest three-year broadcasting rights deal for Britain raised £1.8 billion, and the league plans to send out tender documents to broadcasters for the rights from 2013 between April and June.