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SBD Global/September 13, 2012/Media
BT Vision Acquires Premiership Rugby TV Rights From Sky Sports
Published September 13, 2012
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SHARING THE WEALTH: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Daniel Thomas wrote that BT "will offer rivals such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Sky the chance to show the games on a wholesale basis. BT Vision CEO Marc Watson said: “We will be bringing all of the action together in one place and will look to distribute it on a variety of platforms." The company is looking for a production company to help develop its sports channel (FINANCIAL TIMES, 9/12). In N.Y., Lilly Vitorovich wrote on the Wall Street Journal's Tech Europe blog a BT spokesperson said that BT Vision plans to launch a sports channel next summer to showcase its newly bought football and rugby matches, and is "keeping an open mind" on other sporting rights as they come up. Investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein Analyst Robin Bienenstock said, "BT appears to be ramping up, not down, its competitive stance towards BSkyB" (WSJ.com, 9/12).
HOLDING THE CONTINENT: Sky Sports has agreed to a new four-year deal with the ERC for exclusive live coverage of European Rugby competitions. The new deal for the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup continues a series of major rights renewals for Sky Sports over the last 18 months. The extended contract starts in the fall of '14, after the current deal, and will extend the long-standing relationship with the ERC to the end of the '17-18 season, a 15th year. Under the new ERC deal Sky Sports will continue to hold exclusive live right to:
- THE HEINEKEN CUP: Exclusive live matches from each of the first four rounds, plus all knockout stages and finals for a further four seasons, across the U.K. and Ireland.
- AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP: Exclusive live coverage of matches in the opening rounds, knockout stages, both semifinals and the final across the U.K. and Ireland (Sky Sports).
But in London, John Westerby reported the new contract sent European rugby into "a state of chaos" and left the future of the Heineken "in serious doubt." ERC, the organizer of the Heineken Cup, accused Premiership clubs "of breaching International Rugby Board regulations by negotiating television rights unilaterally." ERC insists it has the sole authority to negotiate for the televising of European matches. Shortly after the new Premiership deal was announced, ERC said it had agreed a new four-year deal with Sky Sports to screen Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup matches exclusively. That, clearly, would be impossible if English clubs have their own arrangement with a rival broadcaster (LONDON TIMES, 9/12).