Landmark FAPL TV Deal – The Hard Work Stars Now – Ben Wells

February 13, 2015

So, job done for another three years? The FA Premier League have concluded the domestic TV rights sales for seasons 2016/17 to 2018/19, generating an astonishing £5.136bn from the seven packages sold to BSkyB and BT, more than half a billion ahead of its own forecasts.

With overseas sales and title sponsorship revenues to follow, it is a phenomenal amount of money and kudos is unreservedly due to Richard Scudamore and his team.

Interestingly and perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a strong immediate reaction from fans, media and ex-players alike arguing that now is the time to use this extraordinary windfall to subsidise ticket prices.

Full stadia are key to the overall broadcast experience (and the health of the sport as a whole) and it’s critical that football takes the time to understand that simply continuing to plough the increased revenues into the pockets of players and agents is the road to ruin. However reduced ticket pricing on its own is not going to solve the problem.

Yes, price is an enormously important consideration. However, value is the often-overlooked other side of the coin.

Discounting sets any business off down a slippery slope. Start discounting and it’s often hard to stop doing so. Much better for me, to look at the model the other way around and ask how we can provide value for money.

It may be possible to maintain pricing levels and still fill the stadia.

The key is investment in the experience: for too long we’ve been raising prices without actually bothering to do too much about ensuring that the asking price represents a commensurate improvement in the value for money.

I’ve written ad nauseaum on this blog about changing customer behaviour and my concerns that the current rigid, one-size-fits-all model is just not going to appeal to the next generation of fans and the subsequent effect it might have on both attendance and viewing figures in the future.

FAPL Clubs’ toplines are secure now for the next four years but it remains to be seen how serious they are about shoring up the bottom line (we’ve already seen Chelsea make Eden Hazard their highest-paid player this week). 

Reducing ticket pricing is a serious debate that needs to be had – and now. However, down the line that there is a strong argument that the next generation of fans are just not going to find the current product appetising, whatever the cost of entry. Far better – in my view – to look at what fans actually want and price it accordingly.

That means investment, a word football hasn’t fully understood yet. Might Financial Fair Play exemptions for such activity be a positive first step? The hard work actually starts now.

Ben has seventeen years’ experience on the marketing side side of sport. Having spent six years at Chelsea FC, where he was Head of Marketing and a year as Commercial Director at Reading FC, Ben has set up his own consultancy, specialising in improving business model elasticity through genuine long-term customer engagement programmes. Prior to his time at Chelsea, Ben spent nearly four years at Redmandarin, the strategic sponsorship consultancy. Follow Ben on Twitter @ben_wells1 This blog appears regularly at

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