ManU has bought BSkyB's one-third stake of in-house TV station MUTV as part of its "long-term digital media plans," according to Jamie Jackson of the London GUARDIAN. ManU Commercial Dir Richard Arnold said: "The acquisition of Sky's stake is great news for all of our fans who watch us around the globe, MUTV, its staff and the club." A press release said, "As part of its long-term digital media plans, Manchester United has made the strategic acquisition of Sky's stake in MUTV in order to own 100% of the content production and distribution capabilities of this business" (GUARDIAN, 1/22). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported MUTV was set up as a three-way joint venture in '98 between the club, BSkyB and commercial broadcaster ITV. ManU acquired ITV's stake in '07 and said that the latest deal "would allow it control over content and distribution of a channel available in 57 countries." Financial terms were not disclosed (REUTERS, 1/22).
IMPRESSING U.S. INVESTORS: The MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS reported the deal was valued at more than £5M ($7.93M) and is part of ManU's "strategy to boost commercial revenues and grow its global fan base." The club has "no plans to change the channel’s subscription model or to make a play to secure the broadcast rights for its own games in the future." Instead, ManU is "eager to demonstrate to U.S. investors its commitment to driving up commercial revenues by widening its worldwide fan base." Manchester-based investment bank Altium CEO Phil Adams said, "The one thing we are hearing is that the United board is being quizzed a lot by investors about the commercial side of the business and what it is doing on the media side of things. When it comes to American investors, they are a lot more interested in the bottom line, as opposed to pure on-the-pitch performance" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 1/22).
Mexican broadcaster Televisa CEO Emilio Azcarraga said that the company "would increase its sports coverage" in '13, focusing on football, and launch an English-language channel developed by Univision and ABC News, according to REUTERS. Azcarraga did not reveal when the new channel will be launched. The venture will "bank on the rising number of Hispanic viewers" in the U.S. Televisa provides "most of Univision's primetime programming." Additionally, the Mexican broadcaster will move "heavily into social media and audience participation to improve its sports coverage," again concentrating on football, an area it and No. 2 broadcaster, TV Azteca, "have ruled for years, but now face rising competition from the world's richest man, Carlos Slim." Azcarraga said, "We are launching a new soccer social media platform ... where everybody can add content" (REUTERS, 1/22).
Infront Sports & Media has extended its long-term partnership with the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) through '21. The company will continue to distribute the worldwide media rights for the biannual men’s and women’s Volleyball European Championships. The agreement also marks an expansion of the partnership. From '14 onward, Infront will also distribute the int'l media rights for the Beach Volleyball European Championships as well as the Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Finals in '16 and '20. The new contract covers all forms of electronic media rights including TV, radio and new media broadcast rights for the confederation's top events on national team level. The company will also be directly in charge or supervise the host broadcast production of the CEV events (CEV).
BBC pundit Colin Murray "is to be dropped" as the Match of the Day 2 presenter next season, according to Charles Sale of the London DAILY MAIL. Murray has anchored the Sunday highlights show for two years since Adrian Chiles moved to ITV. He "is to be replaced by rising BBC star" Mark Chapman, who is "regarded as a more suitable host for a programme that increasingly features the most important Premier League matches of the weekend." It is understood that Murray had "irritated a number of BBC football pundits by the way he criticised players." Chapman will be expected to ask his fellow pundits, such as Alan Hansen, "more questions rather than giving his own opinions as Murray preferred to do in his irreverent presenter's role." BBC Sport had previously denied "the new year speculation that Murray was on his way out." A spokesperson, however, "finally confirmed" the exit on Monday (DAILY MAIL, 1/22). In London, Dominic King wrote criticizing the BBC "in recent months has been easy," but now it deserves "congratulating for taking the first step towards saving a national treasure," on Tuesday. The "decision to banish the charmless" Murray from the Match of the Day 2 sofa and replace him with Chapman is "recognition from the BBC's top brass that measures must be taken to preserve the integrity and reputation of a programme that has spanned generations." After dropping Murray, how will the BBC "continue to make the improvements required that will get the MOTD brand back to the required standard?" The first step is to "let the pundits argue." It could send "one of the pundits to a game" to do "a brief video diary." It should "have a proper shake up of the pundits," as "some, plainly, are not doing enough" (DAILY MAIL, 1/22).
VIEWERS DIVIDED: In London, Barney Ronay wrote on the London GUARDIAN's The Sport Blog as a presenter Murray "divides opinion." Some viewers "have been irritated by the sense of relentlessly room temperature badinage, the feeling of being cajoled into a kind of flabby fixed grin banter-sphere, a strangely needy additional persona around the lighted punditry table." Others, however, "will mourn the passing of a presenter who at least attempted to bring to terrestrial television something of the way normal people speak about football" (GUARDIAN, 1/22).
The Court of Justice of the European Union decided Tuesday that "in cases involving events that generate a great deal of public interest, such as certain sporting events, the cost exclusive broadcast holders charge for rights to air short news clips can be limited," according to Manuel Weis of QUOTEN METER. The case arises from a "dispute between Sky Österreich and Austrian public broadcaster ORF." Sky "acquired exclusive rights to broadcast certain Europa League football matches." The Austrian communications regulator, KommAustria, ruled that Sky "could not charge ORF for its use of the footage beyond any additional costs it incurred in providing ORF with access to its satellite signal." The CJEU said in its ruling that Sky "had to provide free access to the images because there were no additional costs involved in providing ORF with such access." The short news reports "may only be produced for general news programs and not, for example, programs serving entertainment purposes. In addition, the short news reports are not allowed to exceed 90 seconds (QUOTEN METER, 1/22).
La Liga club Valencia has renewed its deal with broadcaster Mediapro through '15. The club's previous deal with Mediapro was due to expire in '14 (AS, 1/20). ... German public broadcaster ARD "will move its signuture news show 'Tagesschau' on Wednesday" due to the Int'l Handball Federation Men's World Championship quarterfinal match between Germany and host country Spain. The game's broadcast will start at 6:50pm German time and therefore "kick the Tagesschau off its usual 8pm spot." The ARD "will show a shortened Tagesschau during halftime of the game, scheduled from 7:40-7:47pm" (DWDL, 1/22). ... Cambodian TV channel MyTV and ONE Fighting Championship have announced a deal that will see the cage fight nights of Asia’s premier mixed martial arts promotion screened live for Cambodian audiences (PHNOM PENH POST, 1/18).