The BBC has renewed its deal to show Premier League highlights on Match of the Day for a further three years, until the end of the 2018-19 season. The agreement covers Match of the Day’s Sunday morning repeat, Match of the Day 2, Football Focus and a new midweek show on Wednesday nights on BBC Two and BBC Two HD.
Match of the Day, which is in its 50th year, and Match of the Day 2 have a combined weekly audience of nine million.
MOTD presenter Gary Lineker said he was “thrilled” with the news. Barbara Slater, the director BBC Sport, called the programme “the most iconic brand in television sport”. She added that it was “very exciting” to be able to add a new midweek show to the mix that would reflect “the continued appetite for Premier League action and analysis”. The BBC’s Premier League programmes will also be available on the iPlayer, the channel’s online video streaming service.Reacting to Thursday’s announcement, BBC director general Tony Hall said: “Sport matters. It brings the nation together. It can break hearts and raise spirits. And because it matters to the public, it also matters to the BBC. That’s why it’s fantastic news that we have kept the Premier League highlights.”
Match of the Day, or MOTD, is the BBC’s main football television show. The first MOTD edition was screened on BBC2 in 1964, showing highlights of the game between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Anfield stadium. The match was attended by over 40,000 spectators, while the television program was seen by only about 20,000. (On a personal note: this tells a lot about how our habits have changed in the last five decades).
The history of the show was not without issues. Several clubs have attempted to block it from being renewed as they feared that the TV show will cause a drop in live attendance to the events. The BBC has reached a compromise with these clubs – it has agreed not to reveal which game will be shown until the game itself has ended, an agreement that was kept until 1983.
Match of the Day had a rough time in the late 1980s, when the BBC lost its right for League football in front of ITV. The channel has only retained the rights for the FA Cup and England matches, so for a time Match of the Day was only shown on FA Cup days. It has regained the rights to show match highlights in 1992, when the Premier League was formed. Regular Match of the Day programming was resumed. Due to the competitive nature of the British TV industry there were changes in the ownership of the rights to showing matches, but BBC has managed to keep its rights to the Premier League, maintaining the MOTD until today – and apparently until the 2018-2019 season under the new deal.
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