Internet giants Amazon and Facebook are considering bids to secure live broadcasting rights to the SPFL.
BT Sport and Sky Sports currently pay around £21million a year to share 60 Premiership matches.
And both have already wined and dined Scottish chairmen in London in a bid to secure exclusive rights when the current contract lapses in 2020.
Sportsmail understands, however, that the SPFL have held tentative discussions with a number of new entrants to the sports rights market in the hope of securing Scottish football’s biggest ever television broadcasting deal.
Amazon, Facebook, newcomers Eleven Sports and Premier Sports have all spoken to the league and will be invited to tender bids later this year. And club chairmen hope to land a deal in excess of £40m a year – double the current contract – by selling the SPFL as a testing ground for major media players keen to dip their toe into the football marketplace.
Earlier this month, Amazon Prime purchased the rights to stream 20 English Premier League games from 2019-20 and also outbid Sky the rights to steam the US Open tennis tournament in the UK.
Facebook has also bid on events from US NFL games to Indian Premier League cricket.
Eleven Sports have snatched the rights to show Spain’s La Liga in the UK from Sky Sports for the next three years and chief executive Marc Watson admits the little known broadcaster, backed by Leeds owner Andrea Radrizziani, plan to become major players in the British market.
Watson, who masterminded the growth of BT Sport, said last week: ‘Eleven Sports is committed to being a major new player in the UK. For us it’s all about the fan.
‘We live and breathe football and we’re going to build a service that’s essential viewing for football fans across the country.
‘We’ll have much more to talk about as the new season approaches.’ SPFL sources insist the process is closer to the beginning than the end, offering no guarantees of a bidding war or a huge hike in revenue.
The entry of internet giants to a market hitherto dominated by BT Sport and Sky increases levels of optimism, however, that Scottish football can begin to claw back some of the financial ground lost when Setanta’s UK operation collapsed in 2009.
The financial meltdown at Rangers in 2012 – and the loss of the Old Firm fixture – further dented the product in the eyes of broadcasters.
But Kieran Maguire, a lecturer for the University of Liverpool’s Football Industry Group, believes the SPFL *could* offer a low cost, low risk opening for internet giants keen to move into bigger leagues in future telling Sportsmail: ‘Amazon will see the SPFL as an opportunity to test out the impact of rights on both their existing Amazon Prime customers.
Amazon won’t necessarily make money from it but they stand to lose little either. If successful then the model could be rolled out elsewhere and they will have learned from any mistakes.
‘Sports rights have repeatedly proven to be the Crown Jewels as they deliver both numbers such as those secured when England played Tunisia in the World Cup and demographics that advertisers like.
‘From the SPFL perspective it will show if a new distribution method has appeal to a new audience and might help increase the price willing to be paid by Sky/BT if there is increased competition.
‘Media analysts think there are too many competing entities at present and there will be a process of elimination/natural selection which will reduce the participants.’