100m reasons why Big Six won’t give up: That’s how much Liverpool and Manchester United could earn by selling ONE game to foreign broadcasters under radical proposals
- Liverpool and Man United could earn huge amounts by selling games abroad
- Under the Project Big Picture proposals, they could pocket £100m for one game
- That is more than their season share from Premier League’s foreign rights deals
A key element of the on-hold ‘Project Big Picture’ (PBP) proposal by Liverpool and Manchester United was letting Premier League clubs sell eight games each season from 2022 direct to overseas fans. Their jaw-dropping income potential shows why.
In 2019-20, champions Liverpool earned around £61million from the 20 Premier League clubs’ £1.1billion share of foreign rights deals.
Under the PBP proposals, and based on TV viewing data obtained by the Mail on Sunday, a best-case scenario might see Liverpool earn £125m from selling A SINGLE GAME to foreign broadcasters in 2022-23.
Liverpool and Man United could earn £100m from selling a single game to foreign broadcasters under Project Big Picture proposals. Their owners John W Henry (left) and Joel Glazer (far right in right picture) were both architects of the shake-up plans
If they were allowed to sell eight, their extra revenue might run to hundreds of millions of pounds per season.
That figure is based on being successful in charging a pay-per-view fee of £5 per person globally who paid to watch their most popular match in recent years live outside the UK.
This newspaper has analysed internal Premier League viewing data from recent seasons and modelled data from broadcast specialists to predict potential pay-per-view revenues if clubs sold some of their own games direct to overseas fans. See the table for details.
We have used average global viewing figures (outside the UK) to categorise matches into ‘blockbuster’ games (mostly between so-called ‘Big Six’ teams) to ‘chaff’ (games between clubs expected to finish in the lower reaches of the Premier League). There are 30 blockbuster games per season, averaging just over 12m viewers each, live, globally outside the UK, with a maximum of 25m viewers for the biggest games such as Liverpool against Manchester United.
If Liverpool were able to sell that game direct to overseas fans at £2 per view and it achieved the average viewership they would make £24m from one game. If they sold it at £5 to 25m people they would make £125m.
There are multiple complications and caveats to consider. Pricing could be lower, or higher. So could audiences. If Liverpool or any club sold direct to a non-UK global market, they would need to offer multiple language options to optimise sales, which involves extra cost. They would need to invest in infrastructure to ensure smooth delivery, and marketing, and customer relations. But, if executed well, there could be a massive financial upside.
The same goes for Manchester United and to lesser extents Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham.
But the smaller clubs in the Premier League face a huge task in making significant sums from selling games globally on a PPV basis. According to the numbers seen by the MoS, the least attractive fixtures in any given season have a global cumulative audience of fewer than 40,000 people per game, including all people watching at home on TV and in pubs and bars.
Liverpool can achieve an eye-watering figure of £125m by selling one game for just £5
They are games that, in effect, virtually nobody wants to see and very few people would pay for on their own. There are currently around 150 of these ‘chaff’ games per Premier League season, and each of them had fewer than 1m viewers from a global population of almost 8 BILLION.
Our table attempts to model the possible income per game that Premier League teams might achieve depending on whether their direct-to-fans games are ‘blockbuster’ or ‘chaff’ or merely ‘good’ or ‘so-so’, and at different price points.
Whichever way you look at it, the biggest clubs stand to make massively more money from selling some games direct to the global market. And if allowed to do so, the wealth divide between those clubs and the rest will surge.
Sources familiar with the plan insist ‘blockbuster’ games will not be sold direct to fans in any proposed trial, which is seen as exploring a path to a future media landscape. The sources claim the games sold directly will only marginally impact the value of the other overseas games.
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