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Sky Sports "has blocked BT Sport" from showing any matches between last season’s Premier League top four during the opening round of televised fixtures, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Details of live games for the first 13 weekends of the new campaign were revealed on Thursday morning, with Sky "having exercised its right of first refusal on 20 of the 38 rounds of fixtures to lock its newest and fiercest rival out of the division’s plumb ties" until Dec. 1. What is being called in some quarters a "strangle-at-birth policy" begins on the opening weekend, when Sky will show the Premier League debuts of Managers David Moyes, Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini at ManU, Chelsea and Man City, respectively. Also, Sky has scheduled ManU’s trip to Swansea at 5:30pm on Saturday, Aug. 17, meaning "it will be the first match the broadcaster has ever transmitted free to air" (TELEGRAPH, 7/11). In London, Ashling O'Connor reported the schedules "offer an insight into BT Sport's commercial strategy for challenging Sky," which has shown exclusive matches since the Premier League's creation in '92 and "still has the lion's share with 116 games this season." It is "a key moment for the newcomer, which surprised the media industry last year" by paying £738M for 38 games a season in "an effort to win new broadband customers." The matches "are free to its subscribers." BT Sport is seen by many as "the first serious challenge" to Sky's 20-year dominance given the financial resources of its parent company, the former state telecom monopoly (LONDON TIMES, 7/11).
BACK AND FORTH: Also in London, John Reynolds reported while Sky "has plucked the pick of the top Premier League games until December, BT could have a strong end to the season." BT "has only exercised" five of its 18 first picks, leaving with it with 13 first picks at the business end of the season. Sky "has exercised" eight of its 20 picks, leaving it with 12. However, the contrast in the early games "is marked," with BT's first game of the season Liverpool vs. Stoke, while Sky is airing Moyes' first game at ManU (GUARDIAN, 7/11). Sky Managing Dir Barney Francis said, "When you look at the opening fixtures in black and white, you can see that no other broadcaster comes close to the quality that we offer. Sky Sports will show every match between last season's top four, as well as every club at least twice by December" (REUTERS, 7/11). In London, Owen Gibson reported BT execs insisted they were "thrilled" by the games they have secured, which include the Merseyside derby. BT Sports Dir Simon Green said, "We have only used five of our top picks, which means that BT Sport will have another 13 throughout the remainder of the season, so our viewers have many more excellent Premier League games to come" (GUARDIAN, 7/11).
BAD NEWS FOR HODGSON: Also in London, Andy Hodgson reported England Manager Roy Hodgson’s "worst fears were confirmed" when it emerged that many of his stars will be in action on the Sunday before England’s "crunch World Cup qualifiers." The TV schedule revealed that Liverpool-ManU and Arsenal-Tottenham will be screened by Sky Sports on Sunday, Sept. 1 "just five days before they face Moldova and nine before the trip to Ukraine." The England boss "had hoped the glamour games would remain" on Saturday Aug. 31, "to give his men the maximum time to recover" (EVENING STANDARD, 7/11).
French pay-TV channel Canal+ "has decided to file a complaint for unfair competition against beIN Sport with the Commercial Court of Nanterre," according to Michael Balcaen of SPORTS. Canal+ "has accused beIN Sport of opperating at a loss" and depending on the deep pockets of its owner, the state of Qatar, rather than having to turn a profit (SPORTS, 7/11). CET NEWS reported customers can watch beIN Sport’s two-channel package for €11 ($14) a month, of which the company only sees €7.20 ($9.40) after VAT and paying 30% to the distributor. The channels had 1.2 million subscribers in March. BeIN's around €100M ($130M) a year of income "cannot cover beIN Sport’s estimate in mid-2012 that it would spend" €300M ($391M) to €330M ($430M) a year on sports rights, including €150M ($195M) for Ligue 1 football. BeIN "would need 5 million subscribers to break even." Canal+ "declined to comment on the matter" (CET NEWS, 7/11).
A senior Channel Nine official said night Test cricket "could become a reality within three years," according to Jon Pierik of the BRISBANE TIMES. Nine cricket Exec Producer Brad McNamara said that the network "is in talks with Cricket Australia to possibly stage a one-off Test under lights." McNamara said, ''The problem with Test matches, as opposed to one-dayers and Twenty20s, is the majority of the population are at work and don't get to see most of it. So, with a night Test match, that once again becomes a much more valuable commodity, not only for us but cricket in general." The idea of night Test cricket "has been floated for several years, but the stumbling block has always remained finding a suitable Kookaburra ball. The traditional red ball cannot be seen properly under lights." McNamara, a former cricketer with New South Wales, said that a pink-lacquered ball "might work." McNamara said, "That's the sticking point. It's amazing -- all the technology available to man at the moment but we can't get a cricket ball that works at night" (BRISBANE TIMES, 7/11).
German public broadcaster ZDF "has scored an own goal with a short teaser for its UEFA Women's Euro 2013 broadcasts," according to BILD. The clip, which has been airing since the weekend, "has caused a lot of negative reaction on the Internet." In the teaser, a female football player in a black and white jersey kicks a ball straight into an open washing machine. She then turns the wash cycle to "Leder" ("leather") and sits down on top of the washing machine. Twenty seconds that "have led to a huge controversy." On Twitter, "it is hailing criticism for the spot." The video is allegedly "anti-women" and "sexist." It "is outrageous that the issue of women's football serves old clichés." What "has a washing machine to do with Euro 2013?" The public broadcaster "has reacted to the criticism." A ZDF spokesperson said, "We take the criticism into account, but don't think the spot is in any way sexist." ZDF Sports Dir Dieter Gruschwitz said, "A spot like that is always a matter of taste. I could have imagined a different one" (BILD, 7/11).
Pan-European broadcaster Eurosport "has obtained satisfying ratings for its broadcast the UEFA Women's Euro 2013," according to Fabian Riedner of QUOTENMETER. Eurosport's broadcast of Wednesday's opening game between Italy and Finland, which started at 5:40pm, attracted 320,000 viewers including pre- and post-game coverage. The number translated into a market share of 2%. In the target demographic 14-49, the 0-0 draw was watched by 40,000 viewers and obtained a 0.7% share. Following the Italy-Finland game, Eurosport showed the game between host country Sweden and Denmark. The first half of the game, which started at 7:55pm, attracted 420,000 viewers and had a strong 1.7% market share. In the target demographic, the first half was watched by 80,000 viewers and obtained a 0.8% share. The second half of the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, attracted 950,000 viewers. The matchup's second half had an overall market share of 3.6% and 2.1% in the target demographic (QUOTENMETER, 7/11).
ASHES IN AUSTRALIA: GEM’s live free-to-air coverage of the opening session of the Ashes match scored a national total average audience of 962,310 viewers. Another 428,000 fans were glued to Fox Sports’ broadcast to take the number of Aussie fans watching the action from the first session at Trent Bridge to more than 1.4 million (Cricket Australia).
EPL Arsenal has released a film to commemorate nearly a century of int'l travel ahead of this summer's Asia Tour. The film celebrates Arsenal's history as a travelling club through pictures and mementos associated with its time on the road. Titled "The Suitcase," it also looks ahead to the team's upcoming tour with Arsenal player Olivier Giroud (Arsenal). ... The Int'l Association of Athletics Federations has secured broadcasting agreements in more than 200 territories for the World Championships in Moscow Aug. 10-18 (IAAF). ... Turkish football club Galatasaray will host La Liga side Malaga in a preseason friendly in Izmir, Turkey on July 21. The match was brokered by Kentaro London and will be broadcast in Turkey and distributed on a global basis by the Kentaro global media sales team (Kentaro).