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EXCLUSIVE: BBC set to retain the rights for Match of the Day for four years from 2025… as ITV and other rivals decide not to bid due to falling viewing figures and difficult advertising market

The BBC are set to retain the rights for Match of the Day for four years from 2025 with their terrestrial rivals declining to bid for the Premier League‘s highlights package.

ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are understood to have concluded that the tender issued by the Premier League last month is not commercially viable for them due to falling viewing figures and a difficult advertising market, with the BBC expected to be confirmed as the home of free-to-air highlights once again by the end of the year.

ITV are believed to have had exploratory talks with the Premier League in recent weeks before deciding not to bid.

The commercial operator briefly held highlights rights between 2001 and 2004, when ‘The Premiership’ presented by Des Lynam initially gained higher viewing figures than Match of the Day during a primetime Saturday evening slot of 7pm, before the decision to push it back to 10:30pm led to its audience collapsing.

ITV and Channel 4 have both strengthened their football coverage in recent years by winning the live rights to England matches, but neither will bid for Premier League highlights. 

The BBC are set to retain the rights for Match of the Day for another four years from 2025 The BBC are set to retain the rights for Match of the Day for another four years from 2025

The BBC are set to retain the rights for Match of the Day for another four years from 2025

Rival broadcasters concluded the tender issued by the Premier League last month is not commercially viable for them due to falling viewing figures and a difficult advertising market Rival broadcasters concluded the tender issued by the Premier League last month is not commercially viable for them due to falling viewing figures and a difficult advertising market

Rival broadcasters concluded the tender issued by the Premier League last month is not commercially viable for them due to falling viewing figures and a difficult advertising market

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ITV executives are understood to have concluded that taking on a national institution such as Match of the Day would represent too much of a risk, reasoning that it would not be worth disrupting their Saturday evening entertainment schedule for football highlights.

Other broadcasters have told Mail Sport that the package offered by the Premier League does not offer sufficient commercial value at a time when all the top-flight goals are available to view on YouTube shortly after 5:15pm each Saturday.

Declining viewing figures are also a concern, as while the BBC have more than offset losing hundreds of thousands of traditional Match of the Day viewers by a bigger increase in its iPlayer audience the streaming services offered by other terrestrial channels have far fewer subscribers.

The changing nature of the Premier League fixture list was also cited as a factor by those declining to bid, with fewer games expected to take place on Saturdays in the next broadcast cycle from 2025 to 2029. As a result broadcasters are effectively being asked to pay for two highlights shows in the slots currently occupied by Match of the Day and Sunday’s Match of the Day 2, which they are reluctant to do.

The BBC’s impending triumph in an auction without any formal opposition will lead to scrutiny over the price they agreed to pay the Premier League, particularly given the fact that traditional audiences are declining. The current three-year deal costs the BBC £211million and a four-year extension on similar terms may trigger questions over whether such spending is a good use of licence-fee payers’ money.

‘It’s scandalous how much the BBC are paying the Premier League given there is clearly limited interest from other broadcasters,’ an industry source told Mail Sport. ‘Match of the Day is effectively a promotional tool for the Premier League which increases its reach and it should be priced as such, rather than as another major revenue raiser.’

The BBC’s imminent retention of Match of the Day will also trigger contract talks with Gary Lineker, whose existing deal expires along with the current rights contract in 2025. The former England striker is the BBC’s highest paid contributor on a salary of £1.3m-a-year and the terms of any extension will also be scrutinised, particularly given the fact that his political views continue to cause controversy.

The Premier League and BBC declined to comment.

The current three-year deal costs the BBC £211m and a four-year extension on similar terms may trigger questions over whether such spending is a good use of licence-fee payers' money. The current three-year deal costs the BBC £211m and a four-year extension on similar terms may trigger questions over whether such spending is a good use of licence-fee payers' money.

The current three-year deal costs the BBC £211m and a four-year extension on similar terms may trigger questions over whether such spending is a good use of licence-fee payers’ money.

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