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Sunday 18 August 2019

More pressure on TV viewers

Vincent Kompany celebrates Manchester City’s Premier League victory
Vincent Kompany celebrates Manchester City’s Premier League victory

Armchair football fans are being advised to shop around if they want access to all 200 televised Premier League matches next season, with Amazon Prime, BT Sport and Sky Sports sharing the rights. Eir Sport will also carry the BT Sport games for its Irish customers.

The 2019-20 fixtures were revealed yesterday, with the first game being newly promoted Norwich's visit to European champions Liverpool on Friday, August 9.

That game will be the first of 128 to be broadcast live by Sky Sports next season, with the campaign's second game - West Ham versus champions Manchester City on Saturday, August 10 - being the first of 52 on BT Sport.

Amazon, the market's new entrants, will show two rounds of midweek fixtures in December, including the Merseyside derby at Anfield and Spurs' visit to Manchester United, and the second, the traditional full programme on St Stephen's Day, features Wolves v City and Leicester v Liverpool.

In December 2017 BT and Sky agreed to carry each other's sports channels but subscribers still have to pay a supplement for the privilege and Amazon's arrival would mean a new monthly payment.

Dani Warner, the TV expert from price comparison company uSwitch.com, believes many fans will be concerned about the potential cost of their football fix.

"All of (Amazon's) games are conveniently confined to December, meaning that non-Prime subscribers could simply sign up for one month," she explained.

"With Sky Sports hosting the vast majority of games, accessing its football channels will be a priority, and loyal fans will likely see an advantage in signing up to Sky on a long-term deal. Adding BT Sport will be a costly add-on. BT customers can likewise add Sky Sports channels to their package.

Warner notes that BT Sport is also the home of Champions League and Europa League football, while a Sky Sports package also includes English Football League games and the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

A cheaper option might be NOW TV's range of daily, weekly or monthly Sky Sports passes. A monthly pass plus a month subscription to BT Sport's app and a month of Amazon Prime, would reduce the season spend.

In terms of the fixtures, City follow their August 10 lunchtime trip to the London Stadium with a home match against Tottenham. Liverpool, pipped by a point to the title by City, follow the season-opener against Norwich with clashes against Southampton, Arsenal, Burnley, Newcastle and Chelsea.

Eye-catching

Manchester United, who finished sixth last time around, have an eye-catching opener, at home to Chelsea on Sunday, August 11, while Arsenal start at Newcastle, also on the Sunday, with the other opening-day fixtures taking place on the Saturday.

Last season's top two meet at Anfield on November 9, subject to TV confirmation, with the return at the Etihad on April 4.

The run-in would appear to favour City, who do not face any teams who finished in last season's top half in their final six matches, following that visit of Liverpool. In contrast, Jurgen Klopp's side have a home game against Chelsea sandwiched between trips to Arsenal and Newcastle.

Details have also been revealed about the top-flight's first mid-season break, with one round of matches to be split over two weekends. Five fixtures, yet to be confirmed, will take place on the weekend commencing February 8, with the remainder being played the following weekend.

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