The Premier league (PL) will be hoping for another huge increase in rights payments in the upcoming auction for the three seasons starting 2019/20

Aggressive competition between BT Sport and Sky has led to hyperinflation of most premium sports rights. Sport now accounts for two thirds of multichannel content spend, but only 8% of its viewing

BT’s current financial position makes it difficult to justify expansion or further hyperinflation of its PL rights portfolio, but it cannot withdraw completely

21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky has been referred for a Phase 2 investigation to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will decide by 6 March 2018

Third parties Avaaz and Ed Miliband MP complain of the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) and family members over the UK’s news agenda and political process 

A remedy could insulate Sky News from this influence. The offer of a Sky News Editorial Board at Phase 1 was refused. Third parties will ensure the debate in Phase 2 is very lively

The US scripted content boom is spilling over into Europe: Free-to-air TV drama ratings have proven resilient but as costs and audience expectations have risen budgets are under pressure, necessitating flexible co-financing arrangements with American broadcasters, and Netflix and Amazon. Pay channels have boosted output—with uneven results

Long-term IP control is a key factor behind independent production consolidation, led by broadcasters seeking a secure stream of content and diversification away from advertising

Notable developments include the new wave of Berlin-based, internationally-financed series, the rise of domestic French content and Sky Italia’s edgy originals, Telefónica’s giant leap into Spanish dramas, and the continuation of Britain as an export powerhouse

Secretary of State (SoS) Karen Bradley has made an initial decision to refer 21CF’s bid for Sky to the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) for a detailed consideration of media plurality concerns, to be finalised in the near future

The issue at hand is the potential increase in the influence of the members of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) over the UK’s news agenda and political process. The SoS rejected the remedy for Sky News brokered by Ofcom

Ofcom’s non-negative decision on the fitness and propriety of 21CF to hold Sky’s broadcast licences cleared another hurdle in the event the merger is finally accepted

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has intervened on two UK public interest grounds in 21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky: media plurality, as in 2010, and a commitment to broadcasting standards, new in 2017

Ofcom will assess any implications of 21CF’s full control of Sky on whether it is ‘fit and proper’ to hold a broadcast licence, reporting back on 16 May

Undertakings are a live issue in the 2016 bid, notably to protect the editorial independence of Sky News, noting the bid faces determined opposition from certain quarters

The latest auction of UEFA Champions League televised UK rights has seen further high 32% inflation as BT renewed its ownership for the three seasons from 2018/19 for an annual payment of £394 million

Although BT annual payments are to increase by £95 million from 2018/19, the new contract offers added commercial attractions, though we expect BT’s efforts to monetise them will fall some way short of the cost increase

However, BT had to win to cement its position against Sky as a strong number two in UK premium pay TV and we expect weaker future inflation of premium football rights. For Sky followers, the focus is now on the UEFA auctions in Germany and Italy, where the outcome is far from certain