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Volume 6 No. 211


BSkyB has retained the live broadcast TV rights for the Premier League in a £3B ($4.7B) deal, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN, who adds that the landscape of British broadcasting "shifted dramatically" after telecom company BT "bought a large slice" of the rights, boosting the TV deal to a "record" 71% increase. An "exciting climax to the season," combined with "intense competition" between rival broadcasters fueled the increase in the three-year deal. BSkyB retained the majority of the rights, securing 116 matches a season. But BT sprung a surprise by winning the rights to 38 live matches per season, including almost half of the "first pick" games. The deal ends ESPN's association with Premier League football. BSkyB has built its pay-TV business over 20 years "on the back of live top flight football." The Premier League has increased its U.K. live TV rights income to £3B -- a £1.2B ($1.9B) boost on the current deal. EPL CEO Richard Scudamore said BT's securing 18 of the 38 coveted "first pick" matches would be a "game changer." Scudamore: "[BT chief executive] Ian Livingstone and his colleagues have hugely ambitious plans. They have not invested in all this fibre [optic cable] for nothing, they want to establish a direct relationship with consumers." He asked that the clubs not use the new deal "to rack up losses and fuel wage inflation." While "he said he wanted clubs to still invest in the best talent, he also made a plea to invest in infrastructure and youth development." Scudamore: "We are entering a new era with financial fair play [the new Europe-wide regulations of club spending]. I'm hoping it will get invested in things other than playing talent. It should also be able to achieve sustainability" (GUARDIAN, 6/13).

HOW IT HAPPENED: The MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS reported that the Premier League "credited the thrilling last-gasp" title victory by Manchester City over ManU for helping to boost the price by £1.254B (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 6/13). The LONDON TIMES' Philippe Naughton reported that the deal "will give a huge economic boost" to Premier League clubs. BT, meanwhile, will "set up its own dedicated channel to run on multiple platforms." Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore said, BT would “deliver new ways in which fans will be able to follow the competition” (LONDON TIMES, 6/13). THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER noted that al-Jazeera "joined the incumbents" in the battle after the auction went into a second round (THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/13). Meanwhile, ESPN released a statement that read, "We made a strong bid that reflected the value of the rights to our business, and we thank the Premier League for the chance to participate. We're looking forward to continuing our Premier League coverage next season, and continuing to serve fans with great live sports events and programming including the FA Cup, Europa League, Scottish Premier League, Serie A, Premiership Rugby, Top 14, golf, darts, UFC, NBA and much more" (ESPN).

IN THE GAME: BLOOMBERG's Jonathan Browning reported that BT will pay a £22M ($34.2M) deposit this month followed by six installments of £120M. It "kept its outlook" for '12-'13, and said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization will be cut by about £100M ($155.6M) and free cash flow by £200M ($311.1M) in '13-'14. BT CEO Ian Livingston said, “BT is already investing £2.5B ($3.9B) in fiber broadband. Securing Premier League rights fits naturally with this, as consumers increasingly want to buy their broadband and entertainment services from a single provider” (BLOOMBERG, 6/13).

PAYING WHAT IT TAKES TO KEEP ESPN OUT? In London, Dan Sabbagh wrote, "Those who believe that the cost of buying the rights to broadcast Premier League games has reached bubble territory are missing the point. The market price for the matches is no longer in line with the commercial value of the games, but instead in line with the value of keeping other cash rich broadcasters like the Disney-backed ESPN out. ... Football may not have needed BT, but it has turned out that phone giant needed football. Its arrival has hiked up the prices for a league that until Wednesday nobody thought could get richer" (GUARDIAN, 6/13).

La Liga clubs have voted that Mediapro not be allowed inside stadiums to broadcast matches until they pay $25M owed to four clubs, according to The broadcaster of La Liga games owes money to: Real Sociedad $16.24M, Athletic Bilbao $5M, Espanyol and Zaragoza. The amount owed to the last two teams was not revealed. The leaders of the the La Liga clubs present at the meeting voted 13-7 in favor of sanctioning Mediapro. However, Real Madrid and Barcelona, along with Levante and Sporting Gijon, decided to challenge this outcome because in their case, they believe Mediapro met the terms of the contract (, 6/13).

Real Madrid is "very close" to reaching a deal that will allow it to secure free-to-air coverage for its official television channel, according to the ECODIARIO. The reports suggest that Real Madrid TV would take over the television slot currently occupied by Marca TV. Negotiations are "underway" and the deal could be official in "a matter of weeks." If the deal is completed, Real Madrid President Florentino Perez would accomplish "one of his dreams"-- making Real Madrid TV accessible to all the Madrid fans. Currently, the channel is only available if you subscribe and pay a monthly fee. This would allow Real Madrid to rival Barcelona FC which has Barça TV available to all its fans in Catalonia for free (ECODIARIO, 6/12).

Brazil Telecom Agency Anatel hosted the 4G auction where 28 national and regional licenses were sold for R$2.72B ($1.31B), according to O GLOBO. The amount was 34.37% over the minimum price accepted by the government. The four largest operators: Claro, Vivo, Oi, and TIM purchased R$2.56B ($1.24B) of the R$2.72B ($1.31B). Vivo will pay R$1.05B ($507M), Claro R$844.5M ($408.1M), TIM R$340M ($164.3M), and Oi R$330.9M ($159.9M) (O GLOBO, 6/12). In Sao Paulo, Joe Leahy reports Brazil's telecommunications market is one of the world's "fastest growing as its growing middle class takes to the mobile internet." Anatel which hosted the event said, "The sale aims to meet the growing demand for telecommunications services and to provide the appropriate infrastructure for the major international events that the country will host in the coming years" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/13). In Brasilia, Julia Borba reports the auction's rules "decree that the Confederation Cup's host cities must be covered by 4G connections by April 30, 2013." World Cup host cities and sub-host cities have a deadline of Dec. 31, 2013. All Brazilian cities with a population more than 100,000 "are required" to have 4G by Dec. 31, 2016. The auction is not over yet with Anatel still having 33 envelopes with proposals for regional low frequencies and another 36 frequencies which can be left for "a new round in the future" (FOLHA, 6/13).

ESPN STAR Sports, the exclusive Asian rights holder for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) domestic and home int'l matches, has formed an agreement with al-Jazeera Sport for the TV broadcast rights of the Friends Life Twenty20 2012, according to the PRESS TRUST OF INDIA. The deal "marks a significant landmark" for cricket broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa with al-Jazeera Sport televising cricket for the first time ever with live coverage of 25 matches from ECB's domestic Twenty20 league. ESPN STAR Sports licenses ECB broadcast rights throughout North Africa and the Middle East, along with various other parts of Asia (PTI, 6/13).

The BBC and Press Association websites have selected data-management software company MarkLogic to "ensure they can handle the vast amount of data that will be created" during the Olympics, according to Sooraj Shah of MarkLogic Europe VP John Pomeroy said that the company has two main objectives. Pomeroy: "One was to streamline architecture, so that rather than having multiple data types stored in different repositories and trying to pull them together in some sort of user front end, they were looking to manage all of the data types in a common back end depository. The other was streamlining processes; both of these agencies are in the real-time news business and therefore it is crucial to have anything new in the right place [on the website]" (, 6/13).

Australian broadcaster TVN has been awarded broadcast rights to thoroughbred racing to "the two biggest markets" of New South Wales and Victoria, to compliment the rights it already holds for the remaining Sydney metropolitan tracks and Victoria, according to Leys & Kogoy of THE AUSTRALIAN. The deal is for 15 years and is worth up to $400M per year. The rights are held by Tabcorp until December for broadcast on its racing channel, Sky Racing. A source described it as "a huge victory" for TVN Chair Harold Mitchell. The source said, "He should take on global warming after this. This is hugely significant because for the first time it means the industry can take charge of its own fortunes and future (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/14).