Five of the seven live Premier League match packages available to broadcasters have been snapped up with the final two up for grabs on Thursday.
So, when the three-season deal kicks off in August 2019, what will be the effect on armchair fans and those who like to watch the action live inside a stadium?
Gazette Boro Editor Philip Tallentire and PA Sport identify the key points of the deal and also look at changes to the broadcasting of Championship highlights.
Eight games in a new Sky Sports Saturday prime-time slot of 7.45pm
Sky has snatched the 5.30pm slot on Saturday afternoons from BT
BT is reverting to its old 12.30pm slot on Saturday
Sky can’t bid for any of the two remaining packages but BT can
Subscribers to both BT and Sky no longer have to choose or shell out for two subscriptions
EFL Championship highlights could be broadcast on little-known channel called Quest from next season
Two ‘simulcast’ packages of bank holiday and midweek games are still up for grabs
The first thing to note now that the dust is settling on the opening exchanges in the latest Premier League bidding war is that Sky has retained its status as the main broadcaster of live top flight football, claiming four of the seven available television packages for 2019-22.
BT secured the other package to have been sold so far, with two more up for grabs when the auction continues.
The five deals done so far have brought in £4.464bn, which is just under £700m short of the total achieved in 2015 , when 168 games were up for grabs.
With 40 more games a season still available for the period of the new deal, the cost-per-game price comes in at £9.3m, down from the current £10.2million.
So is the remarkable TV broadcast bubble burst? Former Premier League chief executive Rick Parry believes the league’s latest television rights sales indicate “a little correction in the marketplace”.
Parry, who headed the Premier League from its launch until 1997, said: “It’s a little correction in the marketplace.
“I think the abnormal deal, the one that took everyone by surprise, was the last one – a 70% increase – which was way more than I think anybody was expecting. So the fact that it’s a relatively minor drop is to be expected.
“We’ve seen new deals announced recently in Germany and Italy and we’re still 65% aheadd of them so I think the Premier League is still in pretty rude health.”
Speaking BBC Radio 5 Live, Parry said he expects income from worldwide rights deals to deliver the Premier League “a greater proportion” of its overall revenue this time.
And he stressed the league was achieving results in line with forecasts, adding: “I don’t think anybody was predicting a significant increase this time and it’s still nearly £1.5bn a season. It’s still an awful lot of money.”
The two rights packages that remain are a new experiment by the Premier League to allow the entire fixture list of 10 matches to be broadcast simultaneously, four times a season (one bank holiday and three midweek matchdays).
With 160 of the 200 available live games a season bagged by BT and Sky, how is the picture looking for the Premier League’s army of armchair supporters?
Sky Sports subscribers
The company has claimed four of the five packages to have been sold already this week, a haul that adds up to 128 games a season from Friday evenings to Monday nights, two more a season than it has in the current three-year deal.
The cornerstone of the Sky Sports package remains Sunday afternoons – 32 games at 2pm and 32 more at 4.30pm, with 19 of the weekend’s best games at that later slot.
Nearly half of those early Sunday games will be second picks, too, so Sky can create big double-header days if it chooses, particularly over the festive period and later in the season.
But Sky has also taken the 5.30pm slot on Saturday afternoons from BT and will put 15 first-pick games on then, which means Sky will have the top game every weekend of the season.
On top of that, the broadcaster got 24 games it can either show at 7.30pm on Fridays or 8pm on Mondays, and eight games in a new Saturday prime-time slot of 7.45pm, which will either cause fights or drive sales of Sky Multiscreen as families vie to boss the remote control!
BT Sport subscribers
The telecom giant is reverting to its old 12.30pm slot on Saturday, a change from the current offering at 5.30pm.
The majority of these games should be good, too, as 20 of them will be second picks. There will, however, be a few for the committed and connoisseurs as 12 of them will be fifth-choice games.
Unlike Sky, BT can add a few more games, too, and it has said it is still interested in the two packages still available – two lots of entire matchdays, all shown simultaneously, one on a bank holiday and a midweek evening, and the other on two midweek evenings.
As it already does something similar with its midweek European nights, BT is the obvious home for at least one of these packages. The other one? Well, the clubs and league really hoped Amazon would join the fray this time and perhaps it will try one of these as an experiment/shot across the bows of BT and Sky.
There is one other hugely important thing – subscribers of both BT and Sky no longer have to choose or shell out for two subscriptions.
In December, in a relatively under-reported announcement , the two companies buried the hatchet and agreed to offer each other’s channels to their respective customers. You will pay, of course, but sports fans will only have to pay for the sport they want, as opposed to the full bundles.
That deal – or truce, really – was the clearest indication that the ‘Wild West’ days of the Premier League’s domestic rights deals appear to be over, which is great news for shareholders in BT and Sky, if not football agents.
The latter, however, can console themselves in the fact there appears to be plenty of upside left in the overseas rights market.
Meanwhile, if Boro fail to win promotion this season, it looks like they won’t be able to watch Championship match highlights on Channel Five.
According to reports, the show will be broadcast by little know freeview channel Quest, who are understood to have signed a deal with the EFL that kicks in from the start of next season.
With the identity of potential presenters yet to be revealed, there hasn’t been an official announcement from Quest.
It’s believed Channel Five’s viewing figures – around 500,000 per show – are well down on expectations, despite it typically being broadcast at prime time on a Saturday evening.
The channel took the highlights package from the BBC, who tended to broadcast their Football League round-up programme late on Saturday nights after Match of the Day.
The BBC chose to package all the EFL fixtures into one show but Channel Five have split the Championship off into a one hour programme followed by another highlights show for League One and League Two fixtures called Goals Rush.
Channel 5 won the rights for EFL football in 2015, penning a three season deal.
What does it mean for Middlesbrough?
When Boro were relegated in May 2017, they pocketed £98,820,976 for finishing 19th, including £3,883,218 in prize money.
The potential prize money for 2019-22 will be decided once the final bidding has taken place.
With £4.464bn already in the bag, the Premier League will be hoping the remaining two packages bring in at least £672m to match the last rights total of £5.136bn.
Boro will receive £47m in parachute payments this season and, if they fail to win promotion, £38m next season.