LONDON (AP) — The Premier League is going pay-per-view in Britain for the first time in 13 years to broadcast some of the matches fans cannot attend due to the pandemic and to raise additional revenue for clubs.
Only 200 of the 380 games a season are contracted to be aired domestically despite global audiences being able to watch all of them live.
With coronavirus restrictions preventing fans attending games since March, the Premier League made every game in each round available live in its home market on Sky, BT, Amazon or the BBC.
But now that the government has halted moves to bring back fans due to a spike in coronavirus infections, the clubs have decided on a new temporary system to continue making all matches available live in Britain.
For half of the 10 matches in each round, viewers will be asked to pay an additional fee of around $20 to watch them on top of their usual subscriptions for Comcast-owned Sky Sports and BT Sport.
The Premier League is already generating 5 billion pounds ($6.5 billion) domestically in the 2019-22 rights cycle and 4 billion pounds ($5 billion) from overseas deals.
Friday’s move by the clubs was condemned by one of the faces of Sky Sports, Gary Neville, the former Manchester United and England defender who is now a leading pundit.
“This is a really bad move by the @premierleague to charge £14.95 for single matches that have been shown free for 6 months,” Neville tweeted.
The Premier League said it was an “interim solution” so fans can still watch their teams live.
“The agreement will be regularly reviewed in consultation with clubs and in line with any decisions made by government regarding the return of spectators to stadiums,” the league said. “Football is not the same without supporters at matches. The Premier League and our clubs remain committed to the safe return of fans as soon as possible.”
The Premier League last aired some games on PPV domestically from 2001 to 2007.
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