Liverpool's Sadio Mane reacts on the pitch, during the English Premier League soccer match between Swansea City and Liverpool, at the Liberty Stadium, in Swansea, Wales, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)
INTERNATIONAL - Sky Plc and BT Group Plc will need to shell out billions of pounds to keep broadcasting English soccer as competition from new entrants will help push rights prices to a record in an auction concluding next month, Ampere Analysis predicts.

The total price for the three-year domestic rights to the Premier League is set to reach 5.6 billion pounds ($7.8 billion) to 5.9 billion pounds, the media consultancy estimates. That represents an increase of as much as 15 percent from the 2015 auction, whose approximate value Ampere correctly predicted at the time.

Sky is likely to take four or five of the seven packages, with BT taking two or three and another bidder -- most likely Inc. or Liberty Global Plc -- taking one or two, Ampere’s Guy Bisson said. The Premier League is increasing the number of live games available as it seeks to attract a wider pool of bidders.

Ampere built a model to forecast the likely value of rights before the previous round. This time the model is predicting a value in excess of 7 billion pounds, but Ampere says that estimate is too high because of pressure on the companies’ profit margins and a lessening of competition between BT and Sky because of a channel-sharing deal. The Premier League is also set to make big gains on some of its remaining international rights deals, Ampere said.