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Data from Euro 2012 broadcaster ESPN reveals that almost twice as many Americans are watching this summer's Euro Championships compared to four years ago, according to Simon Evans of REUTERS. This year's 24 group stage games "averaged just over" 1 million viewers compared to 552,000 in '08. So far, the tournament's most watched game has been Spain and Italy's 1-1 draw on June 10, "which pulled in an average audience" of 2.1 million viewers. That number is bigger than "any game four years ago except the final." ESPN also said that "figures for their digital and Spanish-language products had also risen sharply." ESPN's 2010 World Cup coverage set "new highs" including a 15.5 million audience for the Spain-Netherlands final (REUTERS, 6/21).
BT "tried to pull the rug" from under BSkyB’s football coverage by bidding for the rights to all of the Premier League matches, according to Kelso & Rushton of the London TELEGRAPH. BT "made a surprise entry" into the market last week, agreeing to pay £738M ($1.1B) to show 38 matches a season for three years beginning in '13. However, it was "trying to buy a much bigger share" of the 154 games on offer. BT lodged bids for all seven of the “packages” in which Premier League rights are auctioned, although it "could not have won more than five for competition reasons." Even at this level, BT poses "a serious threat" to BSkyB. The pay-TV broadcaster, which is 39% owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., has "built its business on top-tier football rights." In the latest auction it was forced to pay about 40% more than in previous years "to retain the lion’s share" of Premier League matches (TELEGRAPH, 6/21). Meanwhile, the ECONOMIST opined on the blog Game Theory, "What can £3B ($4.7B) buy?" It was a "mind-blowing price" that BSkyB and BT agreed to pay. Not only is the price "staggering," but it also "shined a light on BT's ambitions to compete more aggressively against BSkyB." Enders Analysis Industry Observer Ian Watt said that BT has, in effect, "begun a long-term plan that is destined to lose money up front in the hopes of fortifying the company's position down the road -- perhaps in time for the next round of bidding." Some Americans "gazing at this kerfuffle from afar" have wondered whether they "should feel embarrassed for ESPN." Well, "no." ESPN "didn't expect to hold on to" the 23 Premier League games it now broadcasts in Britain. The company had already said that it "can't compete" with pay-TV providers like BSkyB, which "justify their high bids as the price for acquiring more subscribers and advertising." The economics of ESPN "are different." The channel makes its money through advertising and affiliate fees. Bernstein Research Media Analyst Todd Juenger said that "this makes the outcome of the bid a non-event for ESPN" (ECONOMIST, 6/20).
UEFA announced the award of '12-15 UEFA Europa League media rights in Germany to ProSiebenSat1. The commercial broadcaster now has the right to broadcast the best live UEFA Europa League match each week, as well as a weekly highlight program. The matches and highlight show will air on free-to-air channel Kabel 1 (UEFA).
WIMBLEDON COVERAGE: ESPN Caribbean will present live and exclusive coverage of Wimbledon on the ESPN Caribbean network from first ball June 25, with day-long marathon telecasts through to the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Finals July 7-8. The event will be available in its entirety on ESPNPlay.com, ESPN Caribbean’s recently launch broadband service. The new schedule is the result of a 12-year agreement between ESPN and the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced just after the conclusion of the 2011 Championships (ESPN).