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Michael Dell Kicking Goals In Premier League, Rights Set To Sell For $2bn In US

The English Premier League is in big demand, and one man key to the success of several clubs is, of all people, Michael Dell and his vast wealth.

In Australia, Optus and SBS have the screening rights, but in the US, ViacomCBS and Disney’s ESPN are vying for the rights along with NBC, the current holders, People familiar with the sale say the Premier League is on course to sell the rights for about $2bn, exceeding the expectations among club executives.

As US streaming operators chase Premier League rights, PC pioneer Michael Dell is tipping some of his fortune into Premier League clubs, with Derby picking up $110M.

MSD Partners also tipped an additional $110M into Premier League team Southampton when they moved to take over rival Burnley.

“Clubs need cash and MSD has cash,” says Kieran Maguire, a football finance academic at the University of Liverpool and author of The Price of Football. “Commercial banks won’t touch football clubs. It’s perceived as high risk.”

According to the financial Times, MSD recently hired senior Goldman Sachs banker Gregg Lemkau to lead the firm, as private equity firms try to grab a stake in Serie A, Italy’s top football division.

Founded in 2009, MSD, together with Dell’s family office, manages about $19bn, with investments spanning public equities, real estate, private equity and credit.

As well as investing some of Dell’s wealth, it also manages substantial amounts for other investors.

In the US, where Premier League goes live during the day as opposed to in the middle of the night in Australia, streaming Companies have recognised what Foxtel and Sky recognised decades ago, that premium sports are in big demand by consumers, who today want to watch their favourite teams perform on a screen other than a TV.

As well as a new record for the US market, where the Premier League has sold broadcast rights since the early ’90s, it would mark the competition’s most lucrative overseas television deal yet.

The league is selling all 38 matches in a single block, rather than in separate packages, in a deal that will run from the 2022-23 season to 2027-28.

In the UK, the domestic TV rights that are held by Sky, BT and Amazon agreed recently to roll over the existing A$9.9bn agreement.

Competition for the US rights underlines how the Premier League is breaking into America, where it has historically struggled for airtime in a market dominated by North American sports such as gridiron football, baseball and basketball.

During the recent COVID shut down of football and baseball in the US, Australian AFL and NRL was screened, with organisations such as Fox Sports witnessing a big lift in the viewing of Australian sport.

In the US, Nearly 7m US households ditched their pay-TV subscriptions last year, according to eMarketer, a trend expected to continue both in the US and Australia.

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