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SBD Global/June 20, 2013/Media

Sky TV New Zealand Loses Premier League Broadcast Rights To Coliseum Sports

Sky TV New Zealand has lost EPL TV rights to upstart rival.
 Sky TV "has lost the rights to screen next season's English Premier League and it is believed a new player to the market won the bid to broadcast to the popular football competition," according to Daniel Richardson of the APNZ. Int'l media rights company MP & Silva "holds the rights to the league and has accepted a bid from an offshore-based consortium which is likely to screen the Premier League as well as the French first division and Italy's Serie A." The new start-up is likely to charge a subscription in the vicinity of NZ$180-NZ$200 ($145-$161) per year but the main selling point is that punters "can watch any game they choose rather than be dictated to by television schedules." Sky insisted that "it did all it could to ensure football fans in New Zealand would be able to watch the Premier League this season." Sky spokesperson Kirsty Way said, "It is not like we didn't desperately want it. We put in a very high bid, our highest bid for it. So we are really disappointed" (APNZ, 6/18). ONE NEWS reported Sky "tried to assure its subscriber base that it would strive to broadcast top-level football in the future." A Sky statement read, "We are extremely disappointed to have missed out and seek to assure our football loving subscribers that this does not signal a change in our wishes to secure the best football matches that we can for you" (ONE NEWS, 6/18).

AND THE WINNER IS...: FAIRFAX NZ NEWS' Walters, Hunter & Pullar-Strecker reported the successful bidder was Coliseum Sports Media Management. Coliseum Sports Media "was established in New Zealand in June last year, with offices in Auckland and California." The company's directors "are listed as Peter Cooper and Matthew Cockram." Cooper is a California-based New Zealander said to be worth NZ$650M ($523M), a former exec director of Lion Nathan and founder of Cooper & Company. Cockram "is a lawyer." Craigs Investment Partners analyst Arie Decker said that "it was difficult to assess the impact of the news on Sky TV without understanding the business plan of the party winning the rights." He said, "If it's part of a strategy to acquire other rights off Sky then clearly the issues are greater. But on an isolated basis I wouldn't think the loss of these rights for a period of time would have a particularly significant influence on Sky" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 6/19). BUSINESS DESK's Paul McBeth reported shares in Sky Network Television sank 6% "after the pay-TV operator was outbid." The stock dropped 34 cents to NZ$5.33 as of midday, having touched a three-month low NZ$5.20, after it confirmed "losing the rights, despite putting up its biggest bid ever" (BUSINESS DESK, 6/19).

SUBSCRIBERS UPSET: ONE NEWS' Jessica Beresford reported "disgruntled Sky subscribers are threatening to cancel their contracts." Almost 2,000 people have to date joined a Facebook group called "Unsubscribing from Sky TV because no EPL" Wednesday afternoon, and many have taken to social media to air their grievances. The scheme announced Wednesday will see PremierLeaguePass.com, which will be launched on Aug. 1, showing all 380 games of the season live, with 250 of those available on-demand for less than NZ$150 for the year. TV ONE will also deliver 38 "Match-of-the-Week" games every Sunday, as well as a highlights show aired on Monday evenings. TVNZ's Head of TV ONE & TV2 Jeff Latch said that he was thrilled to bring the Premiership back to TV ONE screens after a gap of many years. (ONE NEWS, 6/19).

BIG LOSS: FAIRFAX NZ NEWS' David Long opined "Sky TV's loss of the rights to screen English Premier League football is one of the most significant situations the pay-TV network has got itself into." A large number of people subscribe to Sky Sports for the English football -- "it's not a nice little add on." It is "all well and good for Sky TV to say they'll continue to cover the All Whites and Wellington Phoenix, but -- for the majority -- football is the Premier League." One thing that's for sure is Sky TV "won't drop their subscription costs, so viewers will be paying the same for less" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 6/19).
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