BSkyB's domination of Premier League television rights will continue after the Premier League announced the satellite broadcaster will screen at least half of the 138 live matches from 2007 to 2010.
Sky have been awarded the rights for three of the six packages of 23 games each, and are favourite to win a second round of bidding within the next fortnight for two more packages.
Under a deal struck by the League with the European Commission, Sky will be limited to a maximum of five packages, or 115 matches.
The League said in a statement: ``Following the submission of bids by interested parties, the FA Premier League is in a position to announce that it has awarded three out of the six packages of live rights to BSkyB. We will be proceeding to a second round of bidding for the remaining three packages in due course.
'There will be no further comment on this from the Premier League until the conclusion of the second round of bidding. Bidders are also bound by similar confidentiality.'
The next round of bidding is likely to take place at the end of next week or the beginning of the week after that.
A number of other broadcasters are also competing and Irish pay TV operator Setanta are favourites to secure the other package. Other companies including cable firm NTL, ITV and Channel 4 are also understood to have bid.
The EC reached an agreement with the Premier League in March to end Sky's monopoly of live matches.
The commitment, which will remain in force until 2013, is aimed at increasing competition and providing a better service to football fans.
It ended a long-running legal dispute in which the Commission said current arrangements deprived fans of choice, led to higher prices and discouraged innovation.
The deal also increased the availability of rights to broadcast via mobile phones.