SBD/Issue 98/Sports Media

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  • EPL Unveils Record U.K. TV Deal, BSkyB Wins Five Of Six Packages

    The English Premier League "shrugged off the threat of the credit crunch" Friday when it announced "a record television deal that will be worth almost" US$2.7B over three years, according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The deal, for the U.K. TV rights to the '10-11 season through the '12-13 campaign, will provide EPL teams with a 5% increase in TV payout and "will help to bolster the finances of their clubs until 2013." EPL CEO Richard Scudamore: "The great thing is that the clubs now know that the lion's share of their income is secure, which gives them a stable base from which to plan for the future. Even in the recession, television audiences are holding up and doing well and more people are watching television. We are not immune to what is going on out there but the clubs are now well placed through the medium term." BSkyB obtained "five of the six broadcast packages of 23 matches each that have been auctioned," as the company "upped its bid from the [US$1.9B] it is paying now for four packages in the present three-year deal, to [US$2.4B] for the new rights." Meanwhile, Setanta Sports, which has two packages under the current rights deal, "won a single package of 23 matches that will be aired at 5:15pm on Saturday evenings, paying only [US$236.9M] leaving Sky with the first pick of the best matches to be screened at peak hours." Eason noted with overseas rights for the three seasons still to be distributed, the EPL "could set another record for its total broadcasting rights, surpassing the [US$4.0B] it achieved in the present round." Scudamore: "We don't see any reason why we shouldn't do ... extremely well overseas" (LONDON TIMES, 2/7).

    BLOW TO SETANTA: In Manchester, Mark Sweney noted Setanta "has invested hundreds of millions of pounds into sports rights to crack the UK pay-TV market," but the loss of an EPL package "raises questions about Setanta's strategic position" in the market. One analyst: "Setanta is going to have to look at its options, such as perhaps a wholesale deal to bundle its matches with Sky Sports." BSkyB also "will now have to consider its options." An analyst noted BSkyB "can't acquire Setanta and there has to be a sports competitor to BSkyB. Regulators demand it, so it is not in Sky's best interests to see Setanta off. They must have a plan to accommodate them, to shut the door (on Setanta) could see them go into the arms of, say, ESPN, making it potentially an even stronger competitor down the line"  (Manchester GUARDIAN, 2/7). Enders Analysis analyst Toby Syfret estimated BSkyB "might make [US$29.9M] or so more annually in increased advertising and revenues from pubs and clubs" as a result of the new deal. Syfret: "But they are paying [US$153.7M] more, so it is not absolutely clear what the benefit is for them, except putting Setanta in its place" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/7).

    WHAT RECESSION? In London, Nick Harris wrote the deal shows that the EPL is, "once and for all, recession-proof." The deal "means the wages stay high" and "the best players stay." Harris: "The show goes on." EPL clubs "have three revenue streams: match-day, commercial, and media," and with the deal, media revenue "has been secured at a stroke until 2013." Match-day revenue also, "for the moment, shows few signs of dropping massively" (London INDEPENDENT, 2/7). Meanwhile, In Manchester, Leigh Holmwood reported U.K.'s Channel Five has signed an exclusive deal with EPL club Aston Villa "to screen its next Uefa Cup clash," the February 18 CSKA Moscow-Aston Villa match, as well as Aston Villa's "next round match, should the club make it that far" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 2/7).

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  • Two-Sport Athlete: MLBAM, NHL Partner On Online Video Package

    MLBAM-NHL Package To Be
    Sold For $139.95
    MLBAM and the NHL next week "plan to begin co-selling an unprecedented online video package in which the out-of-market game subscriptions for both leagues will be marketed in a joint offering," according to Fisher & Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The MLBAM-NHL deal marks a "rare level of cooperation between sports entities with limited common ownership." The leagues' digital arms will sell the package for $139.95, "less than the cost of purchasing current packages for each sport individually" -- $109.95 for the peak price of MLB.TV and $79.95 for a half-season of NHL GameCenter Live. The pairing "aims to let each seasonal business extend its product and sales cycle as well as buttress subscription-based products during a time of deep retraction for all online advertising-based ventures." MLBAM and the NHL both "hope to glean additional research into the consumption habits of hockey and baseball fans." MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman: "We see a lot of cross-currents here"  (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/9 issue). Meanwhile, MLBAM has agreed to a separate deal with ESPN in which MLB.TV will be sold alongside ESPN's "Insider" subscription at an annual fee of $129.95. ESPN and MLB.com will cross-promote the new package across their digital media properties (THE DAILY). MLB.com indicated that 500,000 viewers last season paid $120 to subscribe to MLB.TV, while another 350,000 paid $15 for online radio broadcasts (N.Y. TIMES, 2/9).

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  • The A-Rod Story: MLB Net Praised For Coverage, Roberts Interview

    Any fear that MLB Network would "try to paint the league in an exclusively positive light was eradicated Saturday" with its coverage of the Sports Illustrated report that Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in '03, according to Will Leitch of NEW YORK magazine. The network’s coverage, featuring Bob Costas, Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci "was gripping, tough, fair, and completely on point." Leitch: "The MLB Network is no house organ." If MLB Network "ends up being a success, Saturday’s breaking-news coverage of A-Rod will be its Hugh Grant on Leno moment” (NYMAG.com, 2/9). In DC, Jim Williams writes there are "defining moments that established when a network makes it to the big time," and for MLB Network, that moment "came Saturday" when Costas interviewed SI's Selena Roberts, who along with SI's David Epstein broke the Rodriguez story. Any thought the net "would run away from controversy was silenced" with the interview. Credit must go to MLB Net "for getting Costas on the air with Roberts and showing anyone who had any doubt that they would be a force in the marketplace when it comes [to] breaking news in baseball" (Washington EXAMINER, 2/9). On Long Island, Neil Best wrote MLB Net was "all over" the SI report, and Costas' interview with Roberts was "one highlight" of the coverage. Best: "So much for concerns the mostly-MLB-owned MLB Network would be reluctant to tackle uncomfortable stories" (NEWSDAY.com, 2/7). THE BIG LEAD writes "what a move by MLB Network" to get Costas to sit down with Roberts. While the net "isn't likely to break any news on the steroid front, the mere fact that they were reacting so quickly to such a negative story was rather impressive." THE BIG LEAD: "Guess the network won't just be a PR arm for the sport" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 2/9).

    MORE KUDOS: On Long Island, Ken Davidoff wrote the SI report is a "disgrace for our government, which couldn't protect this very sensitive information." But the report is a "journalistic triumph" for Roberts and Epstein (NEWSDAY, 2/8)....The EXAMINER's Williams writes ESPNews also was "all over the story," as ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y.'s Andrew Marchand did a "masterful job of getting listener reaction" (Washington EXAMINER, 2/9).

    TV MONITOR: The SI report on Rodriguez was covered by all the major network news shows that aired. Saturday’s edition of CBS’ “Evening News” led with Rodriguez, with 5:29 of total coverage. Following a taped report, SI’s Tom Verducci appeared live via satellite to discuss the situation with anchor Jeff Glor. Saturday’s edition of NBC’s “Nightly News” first reported on Rodriguez at 4:57 into the broadcast, with 2:45 of coverage. Saturday’s edition of ABC’s “World News” first aired a report on Rodriguez at 7:30, with 1:46 coverage. On Sunday morning, NBC's “Today” featured the co-hosts discussing Rodriguez at 0:48, with 5:56 of coverage. Following a taped report, N.Y. Times columnist William Rhoden appeared live in-studio to discuss the issue. ABC's “GMA” featured the co-hosts first discussing Rodriguez at 1:56, with 3:05 of coverage, while CBS’ “CBS News Sunday Morning” first aired a report on Rodriguez at 3:50, with 0:19 of coverage. Rodriguez also was the main story on several news Web sites, including CNN.com and MSNBC.com, for a large portion of Saturday afternoon (THE DAILY).

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  • CSN Moving Forward In '09 While Other Media Outlets Cut Back

    While "most media companies are cutting back," Comcast Sportsnet (CSN) is "investing in studio improvements and new programming and revamping its Web sites," according to John Consoli of the N.Y. TIMES. CSN Exec VP & Chief Revenue Officer Ray Warren said that his goal was to "make the company's regional sports networks, in cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Phildelphia and San Francisco, 'the ESPN of local markets.'" Warren said that CSN was "bringing in more ad revenue from national advertisers than it was from local advertisers." Warren added that "inroads could be made with national advertisers in categories like fast food, pharmaceuticals, tourism and technology." Warren: "Our ratings are good. We need to start talking about that with advertisers." CSN Senior VP/News Operations Princell Hair said, "As we look at the different markets we are in, each one has different viewer sensibilities, and we are trying to target new programming to meet those sensibilities. ESPN has their sports talk shows nationally, and we are looking to do what they do nationally on a local level. There is room for both of us." Hair added that he "wanted to expand beyond game broadcasts and produce more programming throughout the day." GroupM's Matrix Managing Partner Peter Gusmano said that CSN "gave local advertisers an affordable way to get into professional sports broadcasts in big markets." Gusmano: "All of my clients are extremely receptive to these regional sports networks, and the moves they are making will not fall on deaf ears" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/9).

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  • SI Using '09 Swimsuit Issue Promos, Events To Generate Revenue

    SI Swimsuit Model Bar Refaeli's Image To
    Be Emblazoned On Southwest Jet To Vegas
    Sports Illustrated plans to unveil the 46th edition of its swimsuit issue tonight on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," and SI is betting it can turn the magazine "into a souped-up marketing machine," according to Shira Ovide of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. PepsiCo's SoBe line is "sponsoring YouTube videos of the women featured in the issue," and a Southwest Airlines jet "emblazoned with an image of swimsuit model Bar Refaeli will whisk VIPs to a launch party in Las Vegas this week." As part of a "days-long Vegas celebration, stunt drivers sponsored by Nissan Motor will race cars on a lot adjacent to the Luxor hotel, with swimsuit models as their passengers." This year, "about 40% of revenue generated by the issue -- which accounts for about a tenth of the magazine's total annual revenue -- will come from digital and event-marketing efforts." Execs indicated that four years ago, "just 4% of the issue's revenue came from sources other than print advertising." Ovide notes the promos have "helped Sports Illustrated offset a drop in print-advertising revenue." This year's swimsuit issue has "70 pages of ads, a third fewer than last year's." Las Vegas is "spending more than" $1M with SI to feature swimsuit models in events this week, "culminating Friday in a 1,000-person launch party and concert" featuring musician John Legend at the LAX nightclub. Meanwhile, SI online "plans to post more than 1,500 pictures from its swimsuit photo shoots, an effort that generated more than half a billion page views for last year's swimsuit edition" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/9).

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  • Sportgenic To Debut Web-Based Advertising Platform Torque

    Torque Software Will Be Marketed
    To Media Outlets, Brand Marketers
    S.F.-based sports marketing outfit Sportgenic today will announce the development of Torque, a new Web-based platform it has developed to manage all forms of offline and online advertising in one spot. The software product, currently in beta testing, will be marketed to media outlets to post their available inventories within the system, as well as to brand marketers. "What we're trying to do is break down the barriers of ad buying and insert a much greater level of efficiency and transparency," said Sportgenic CEO Robert Tas. "Rather than dealing with one agency for online, another for event-marketing and another for TV, and so on, the idea here is to put together an entire marketing package in one place, and do it in a much more targeted way."

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  • People & Personalities: Van Pelt Suspended From Radio Show

    Van Pelt Suspended From Radio Show
    In Wake Of Rant Over Selig's Salary
    DEADSPIN's A.J. Daulerio cited ESPN sources as indicating that the net's Scott Van Pelt "was suspended from his radio show" for this afternoon. Van Pelt last week on his show "hammered Bud Selig about the MLB Commissioner's $18.5[M] salary," and sources said that Van Pelt's "rant about Selig was 'too personal' for some of the ESPN bosses." Van Pelt, "reportedly on his own volition, called Selig to apologize and was in agreement that his statements were a little harsh" (DEADSPIN.com, 2/7). Van Pelt said Selig "couldn't have been more gracious. We spoke for about 20 minutes. He told me he accepted my apology and we're both moving on" (USA TODAY, 2/9).

    WORTHY OF RESPECT: SI.com's Dave Heuschkel notes Magic radio analyst Richie Adubato during Friday's game against the Pacers "protested a call" by NBA referee Violet Palmer and "suggested she isn't qualified to be an NBA ref." Adubato said that Palmer "should go back to the WNBA because that's where she belongs," and he said that she "can call that a foul in the WNBA but not the NBA." Heuschkel wrote he does not have a problem "with Adubato disagreeing with the call," but Adubato "personally attacked her and questioned the credentials of somebody in their 12th season as an NBA ref" (FANNATION.com, 2/7).

    DEEP COVERAGE: In Buffalo, Alan Pergament wrote the "most impressive new announcer" during NBC's pregame coverage of Super Bowl XLIII was Patriots S Rodney Harrison.  Harrison "was especially good explaining what he was thinking when" Giants WR David Tyree "made his incredible big catch in the 2008 Super Bowl with Harrison draped all over him" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/7).

    NOTES: Golf Channel Managing Dir of PR Dan Higgins said that the net on-course reporter Andrew Magee "will be suspended for a recent comment -- when he thought he wasn't on-air -- about a sexually suggestive statement on a fan's T-shirt" (USA TODAY, 2/9)....ESPN2 "First Take" NFL analyst Jamal Anderson "was jailed in Atlanta early Sunday morning after being charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/8)....Globe & Mail columnist William Houston wrote his last column Saturday "after more than 5,000 bylines in The Globe and Mail over 29 years." Houston is "moving on to new pursuits" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/7).

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