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Volume 10 No. 22


BT is expected to set aside billions of pounds over the next decade to spend on sports rights in "a sustained attempt to challenge Sky Sports, as it gears up to launch two new sports channels in July," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. BT, which spent £738M on 38 live Premier League matches per season last year, will "consider launching bids for a host of other major football properties" including the FA Cup, Champions League and England internationals as they become available. It will also "target other sports." BT has already signed a £152M ($245.5M) club rugby deal that has caused "major ructions within the game." However, execs are also "acutely aware that the arrival of BT in the market has already fuelled rights inflation and are determined not to overpay." This week, BT will "announce that it has signed a four-year deal" with the WTA to broadcast 800 hours of live tennis a year. The deal is expected to be "the first in a new spate of deals to fill its schedules." BT Sport Head Simon Green said that the WTA deal "would be the first of several to try and give more exposure to women's sport." Green: "This is our first women's sport for the channels, and we see a genuine opportunity to really develop the exposure for women's sport with our new channels." BT is also awaiting the outcome of a dispute between European Rugby Cup and Premiership Rugby over the future shape of European competition. It has also signed deals to show Italian, Brazilian, French and U.S. football that "all can be packaged and marketed more attractively than they are at present." The new sports channels will be made available to Sky viewers, but will also be "aggressively marketed to existing BT customers," with deals for those who also subscribe to its telephone, broadband and TV services (GUARDIAN, 1/10).

Swiss public broadcaster SRF "once again lost viewers, despite crowd-pulling sporting events in '12," according to BLICK. The ratings decline "has not come to an end." The SRF "is losing viewers." Last year, the broadcaster's "average daily market share was only 29.3%." In '11, SRF's market share "dropped under the psychologically important 30% mark to 29.8%." In '12 this downward trend continued despite having the London Games and Euro 2012 in its program. SRF issued a statement saying that "this trend correlates with industry expectations." More and more "providers move in a limited market." The decline "is also due to Internet TV usage, which was not measured in '12, but will be taken into consideration starting next year" (BLICK, 1/10).

Interim Australian cricket team captain George Bailey "has accused Channel 9 of intentionally denigrating Australia's one-day team to force down the price of the next broadcast rights deal," according to Mark Hayes of the HERALD SUN. Negotiations "are under way between Nine and Cricket Australia over a new broadcast arrangement," and preliminary reports suggest the deal could be worth A$500M ($528.9M) (HERALD SUN, 1/11). In Sydney, Peter Lalor reported "things have got ugly since Nine Dir of Sport Steve Crawley complained about the axing of Michael Hussey from the series and the decision to rest David Warner in the first two games." Bailey, standing in for Michael Clarke as captain, hit back Thursday while announcing that "debutants would fill the top three batting slots." Bailey said, "I think they're (Nine) about to go into negotiations for the TV rights; I think that was a pretty tactical move to try and talk down one-day cricket and what the Australian team's putting out. It's still the Australian cricket team, isn't it? I'm sure Sri Lanka won't be taking it as an Australia 'B' team." Bailey's attack comes two days after CA Strategic Communications Adviser Peter Young "also hit out at talk the side was a B team." Young said, "We find that downright offensive. The selectors are charged with picking teams that win games for Australia. We've got three formats that we've got to balance now." (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/11)

Canadian sports channel Sportsnet has reached a four-year multiplatform agreement with CONCACAF for the broadcast rights to seven properties, including the '13 and '15 Gold Cups. The new agreement, which runs through the '16 season, features a suite of multimedia rights for TV, online and mobile, and includes the following events: Gold Cup, Champions League, the men’s and women’s qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games, the men’s and women’s U20 and U17 Championships, the Futsal Championship in '16, and the 2014 Women’s World Cup qualifiers for the 2015 FIFA World Cup. Sportsnet previously aired CONCACAF events in '11 and '12 (Sportsnet).