Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward claims Amazon and Facebook are likely to bid for Premier League streaming rights when the next TV deal is negotiated in the coming months, which will further escalate the huge financial boom for England's top clubs.
The news could result in another huge rise in the broadcast income for clubs, which would risk driving transfer fees and player wages even higher, and pose a significant threat to the stranglehold Sky and BT Sport have over domestic TV rights given the colossal financial might of the new media providers.
United have become the first club to break the £250m barrier for their wage bill after their latest annual accounts, published on Thursday, showed salaries had increased from £232m to £263.5m.
Facebook underlined its determination to enter the sports market with a failed £444m bid for digital rights to cricket's Indian Premier League earlier this month while Amazon has paid £37m to live stream the 10 Thursday night NFL American football games this season. Google and Netflix have also been touted as potential bidders for Premier League rights.
The existing three-year deal, which runs until the end of next season, is worth £8.6bn, about £3.5bn of which is accounted for by overseas rights, with the auction for the 2019-2022 due to start later this year and completed around February, according to the Telegraph.
Speaking on a conference call to investors, Woodward confirmed Facebook and Amazon were expected to enter the bidding for Premier League rights and possibly Champions League rights.
"Absolutely I think they'll enter the mix," Woodward said, as per the Guardian.
"Anecdotally there was strong interest in the last cycle, and we're hearing that around the Premier League table, but we're also hearing that from a European perspective as well in terms of interest in the Champions League and Europa League rights.
However, he said he had heard of "very big numbers" being offered for IPL (Indian Premier League) and noted "with interest" Major League Soccer's 22-match deal with Facebook for the 2017 regular season campaign, as reported by the BBC.
Woodward's remarks follow comments from Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore last month when he effectively opened the door for new media platforms to bid. "We envisage anybody, really, being able to come along and bid for those rights," Scudamore said, as reported by the Mirror.