I think we all know that since Sky bought the rights for the newly founded Premier League in 1992, there’s been less and less live football available in the UK free to air. And with new entrants to the market in the last few years like BT and Amazon, it’s hard to keep track of what packages you need to watch the footie you want. So here’s our little guide about which competitions are where…
Who has the rights for the Premier League?
Let’s face it, the big one. In the latest round of auctions, Sky again won the greatest share of games, with 128 live games per season, including the coveted Saturday 5.30pm and Sunday games. BT won 52 games, mainly on Saturday lunch time and all the games on New Year’s Day. Amazon Prime are brand new to live football in 2019/20, having started offering live tennis a few years ago. Their games are all in December, mid-week during 3rd to 5th and all the games on Boxing Day. Of course as well as getting the football, with Amazon Prime you’ll also get free next day shipping and access to their music, film and TV library included.
What about The Champions League, how do I watch that?
BT came into the market in 2015, taking the rights off ITV and Sky. Since then it’s been exclusively live only on BT Sport, and for the last few years they’ve expanded coverage to show every game via their red button channels, so even if you don’t want to watch any of the British teams, you can flick over to see Real Madrid, AC Milan & Barcelona. They also have a special programme on BT Sport 1 called The Goals Show during the group stages where they flick between each of the games going on to bring you the latest goals, red cards and incidents supported by a panel of experts. We like to call it ‘Football Tapas’!
The FA Cup is still on the BBC, right?
The FA Cup still has half of its games (including the final) free to air on the BBC, with the other half shown on BT Sport. The BBC has ‘first pick’ when it comes to the games shown live, so often by the time you get to the quarter and semi-finals, the most prominent game is free to air.
From 2021 though, all games will be free to air with the BBC and ITV winning the most recent deal for rights.
Is the Scottish Championship only on Sky now?
For Scotland, the rights to the games are currently shared between BT Sport and Sky Sports, with each showing up to 30 games per season plus the play-offs.
From 2020, Sky have agreed a new deal with 48 games plus the play-offs shown on their channels, and recent entrant Premier Sports winning 12 games too. Premier Sports are an interesting option – as well as some Scottish Football games, they have the UK rights to the Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A. If you subscribe to Premier Sports, you can watch their either on their app or via channels on Sky and Virgin TV.
What else do I need to buy a subscription for these days?
Well, if your team is in the Championship, League 1 or League 2, then Sky again is your best bet. They hold all the rights to these divisions, showing games on their Sky Sports Football channel. They will show 138 games per year, including at least 20 games from League 1 & 2. Worth noting that in addition this includes the play-offs each year, and the Carabao (league) cup which all English teams enter, though many of the top teams like Manchester City and Arsenal don’t play all their 1st team players.
So with Amazon Prime – how do you watch their games on my big TV?
Of course Sky and BT customers can already watch on the big screen by taking one of their TV packages. Amazon doesn’t sell a traditional TV “box” but it’s actually really easy to watch on your big screen TV. You can either;
Our little summary
Here’s our handy table to help summarise this for you;
|Games shown live per season||Premier League||Champions League||Championship and League 1 & 2||FA Cup*||Scottish Premiership*|
| Sky Sports||128||–||138||–||30|
| BT Sport||52||343||–||30||30|
|Amazon Prime Add logo||20||–||–||–||–|
|BBC Add logo||–||–||–||30||–|
|ITV Add logo||–||–||–||–||–|
*note that rights for the FA Cup and Scottish Premiership are changing in 2021 and 2020 respectively
Getting a bundled package can save you money and make your life easier!
Of course with lots of different providers, and the football rights spread across them, chances are you can’t just pick one of the providers and get all the games you want. You can of course set up a subscription which each of the providers you need – but that means a separate account, different login details and quite a bit of hassle.
So – we would advise looking out for ‘bundled’ packages where you can get more than a package of providers all from 1 company. BT are offering this already with Amazon Prime included in some packages, and Sky have offers including Netflix.
Want to find the perfect package to watch football at home?
Switch TV has a unique channel and programme finder – it’ll give you a great package for the TV you want to watch. Just enter your chosen providers (e.g. “Sky Sports Premier League”) into our handy tool here and we’ll do the rest!