After years of outright competition, BT and Sky have announced a multi-year deal to sell their channels on each other’s platforms.
That means Sky will be able to sell BT’s sport channels – which include the Champions League, Premier League football and Ashes cricket – through their own service.
Customers will therefore be able to purchase BT Sport from Sky under one account.
Sky Sports and BT Sport have come to an agreement over supplying each other’s channels
And at the same time, BT will be able to supply the entirety of Sky’s sports channels to their customers. That has never been possible before.
The new services will be available to customers from early 2019.
But what does this mean for sports fans? And how is this tied into the upcoming bidding for the Premier League TV rights package?
Sportsmail has taken a look at the current situation and assessed what might be going on behind the scenes.
Sportsmail has taken a look at why the two companies might have agreed this deal
Why have Sky and BT done this?
The two media companies have probably done this to safeguard themselves against any surprises in the upcoming round of Premier League TV rights bidding.
The relationship between the two is also likely to change if Disney’s takeover of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox goes through.
ESPN, owned already by Disney, have a relationship with BT, while Disney will also purchase Sky Sports as part of their takeover.
Sky and BT will be able to safeguard themselves through this agreement over channels
What could they be worried about?
The fear is that this will finally be the round of TV rights bids that sees the major streaming services enter the market.
It has been rumoured for a number of years but the companies are now strong enough and prominent enough that they would be able to make a success of owning the Premier League rights.
They also have the financial clout to be able to blow both of the companies out of the water. Both Sky and BT are huge organisations but neither can match up to the tech giants.
The Premier League openly said in the tender documents: ‘The Live packages will be available for exploitation on a technology-neutral basis.’
If one comes in with a major offer, and outbids either Sky or BT for some of the packages, it could have left them without Premier League football, which is a crucial part of their offering.
This agreement avoids them being left outside alone.
There will be a fear at both organisations that the major streaming services could compete
Who is likely to bid from the internet companies?
There are three key names, and they all have streaming services to bolster.
Facebook, Amazon and YouTube are the ones most likely to get involved in this round of rights.
There is also a chance that Apple will come in, but they do not currently seem particularly interested in involving themselves in this field.
What about Netflix?
Netflix actually ruled themselves out of the race for the Premier League TV rights last week.
‘We want to provide the best video storytelling across all genres, but it won’t encompass live sports broadcasting,’ a Netflix exec said to the Independent.
They have already captured one market – original content – and their dominance in that field means they do not have to expose themselves to the cost of buying the rights.
That may change in the future, especially as the likes of Disney look to take the rights to their films and TV in-house, but they will not be involved in this bidding war.
Both companies are huge organisations but cannot match the tech giants for financial clout
Why are Amazon one of the most likely bidders?
As mentioned before, Netflix have absolutely blown everyone else out of the water when it comes to original content.
Amazon’s own efforts in that field – Transparent aside – have fallen flat, and they have explored other options.
They already stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games around the world and have also bought the rights to the ATP Tour for next year onwards.
Amazon have also partnered with Manchester City for a behind the scenes documentary.
That suggests they could be positioning themselves as the go-to streaming service for sport. And Premier League rights have to be seen as the crown jewels.
And what suggests Facebook will be competitive?
Facebook have been heavy on live content for the last few years. They have even partnered with La Liga to show some lesser matches on their platform.
On Thursday they announced they would stop subsidising creators of Facebook live content and instead pay upfront for a new series of shows to appear on their Facebook Watch service.
One of the first companies to announce a show on Facebook was WWE. While it might be a fake sport by any measure, it is also live content and can traditionally be found on sports broadcasters.
Facebook might view the Premier League as an exceptionally simple way to make a huge impact on a market they are just starting to explore.
Both Amazon and Facebook are starting to make in-roads for live sport streaming
Will the value of the rights continue to rise?
That is a good question. Ratings fell last season for the Premier League just after both Sky and BT started to pay more money for the rights.
But that might just be as simple as Sky suddenly upping the cost of Sky Sports and the younger generation being less inclined to pay for subscription services of that nature.
At the least, this sudden interjection by the major tech players will come as a huge boost for the Premier League, who should expect a higher price because of the increased competition.