Thursday was the last day for U.S. networks to submit bids to pick up rights to
the EPL, according to several sources who say they do not know when the
EPL will formally announce a winner. ESPN and Fox Soccer currently hold
the U.S. TV rights, and sources said both networks have submitted bids.
NBC Universal Sports also has submitted a bid for the rights. Sources
say al-Jazeera-owned BeIN Sport, IMG and Discovery Networks were
considering submitting bids, as well. The EPL last sold its rights three
years ago to Fox Soccer. The channel, in turn, sublicensed about 80
games per season to ESPN. The two media companies have submitted a
similar joint bid this week. The package is especially important to Fox
Sports, which runs Fox Soccer. "English Premier League is truly one of
the world’s elite organizations and the level of soccer is
unparalleled,” said Fox Soccer Exec VP & GM David Nathanson. “Fox
has increased the league’s U.S. exposure tremendously during this
current three year cycle, and we hope to be able to continue to grow the
league and sport in America going forward." Fox Soccer VP/National Ad
Sales Mike Petruzzi, a former exec at SUM, said EPL broadcasts have been
instrumental in selling sponsorships at the network. “It takes time,”
said Petruzzi in an interview late this summer. “There were times when
it wasn’t easy to get in the door. But when we meet with CMOs and heads
of agencies, everyone’s a soccer fan. With the EPL now, there’s a great
level of awareness.”
NBC BID NOT AS STRONG AS EXPECTED: While NBC Sports
submitted a bid, sources said it was not as strong as some were
expecting. NBC’s cable channel, NBC Sports Network, is in the market for
more live sports. But NBC’s F1 deal, which was announced earlier this
week, will fill some of the same windows NBC Sports would need for the
EPL, sources said. BeIN Sport has been aggressive in picking up
int'l soccer rights to top European leagues, as the net has deep
pockets. But there is a question whether it would have enough weekend
morning windows to accommodate EPL, given its existing deals with La
Liga and Serie A. There is also a question of whether EPL would sell its
rights to a channel that has little distribution and is relegated to
sports tiers. Discovery for the past several years has made noise about
trying to add sports to some of its channels like Velocity, a channel
targeting the 25-54 demo. It is not clear how serious Discovery will be
in trying to pick up EPL rights. IMG did not return a phone call by
deadline, but its interest in EPL almost certainly would be to
sublicense the games to interested networks.
Eurosport has secured the exclusive pan-European TV and Internet rights for the Chinese Super League. The deal includes the last three matchdays of the current season and will continue through the '13 and '14 season. Eurosport also has the sub-licensing rights of the competition in its 59 territories. The league expanded from 12 to 16 teams this year and is home to players who have transferred from leading European clubs: Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Seydou Keita. Drogba and Anelka both left Chelsea for Shanghai Shenhua, while Keita left Barcelona for Dalian Aerbin (Eurosport). DIGITALSPY.com's Andrew Laughlin reported Eurosport 2 will begin live coverage of the Chinese Super League on Saturday when Shenhua play Changchun Yatai. The game will be followed by Dalian Aerbin vs. Shenhua on Oct. 27 "and the season closer tie" between Shenhua and Qingdao Jonoon on Nov. 3. In addition to TV, "live coverage of matches will be available on the Internet and mobile via the Eurosport Player streaming service" (DIGITALSPY.com, 10/18).
Broadcaster GolTV will produce and broadcast a new series to capture the drama surrounding the upcoming Argentinian Superclasico between River Plate and Boca Junior. Titled Los Caminos de una Pasión (Two Teams, One Passion), the series is GolTV’s first documentary-style special to profile an Argentinian league match. A new episode will debut each night beginning Monday through Oct. 26 at 8:00pm ET, building up to the Superclasico, which will air exclusively on GolTV on Oct. 28. The five half-hour shows will showcase the history of River Plate vs. Boca Junior, going beyond the field to examine the legendary stories associated with the rivalry and impact the series has had on each Buenos Aires neighborhood. The show will also feature interviews with past and current players and coaches, and include video packages from previous Superclasicos (GolTV).
The '13 National Rugby League season will kick off with Thursday night games being played in the "first four rounds of the competition" as part of the new broadcasting deal with Channel Nine, according to the AAP. The NRL revealed the new scheduling arrangements following a meeting of club CEOs in Sydney on Thursday. This year's season began with a Thursday night game between Newcastle and St. George Illawarra. But '13 will be the first season that four Thursday night games will "form part of the opening month of the competition." The decision means the NRL will be broadcast on TV five days a week for the opening four rounds (AAP, 10/18).
UEFA has awarded the '12–15 UEFA Champions League media rights in Moldova to broadcaster PRIME. The commercial broadcaster will transmit, via its channel Canal3, one live match followed by a highlights program each matchnight. The UEFA Champions League semifinals and the final will be broadcast on the channel PRIME (UEFA). ... Australia's Ten Network will cut up to 100 jobs after posting a A$13M ($13.5M) loss for the year. The company has blamed "difficult trading, the one-off impact of the London Games and poor ratings for the result" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/19).