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Volume 6 No. 214


BT "is in discussions to acquire football rights" from ESPN as the Disney-owned channel "explores an exit from the U.K.," according to Budden & Thomas of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The interest comes as BT "plans to roll out as many as three sports channels to broadcast football, rugby and other sports content it has already acquired" for almost £1B ($1.55B). ESPN rights that "are being touted for sale include broadcast rights to certain matches from the German Bundesliga, the Europa League and the English FA Cup." Satellite broadcaster BSkyB "is also interested in the assets." Analysts estimate that "acquiring the three rights together would cost about" £20M ($31M) annually (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/17).

Overseas TV rights are becoming "an increasingly important part of the growing wealth" of the Premier League, and in particular its top clubs, according to Jonathan Dyson of the London INDEPENDENT. Although negotiations over these rights for the next three-year cycle, starting in the '13-14 season, are "yet to be concluded," it is already clear that their value for '13-16 is "set to increase significantly" on the £1.4B earned for '10-13. Some estimates predict at least a 30% growth, which would make overseas rights worth more than £2B ($3.1B), and "raise the total value of the broadcasting deals, including domestic rights," to around £5.5B ($8.5B). As the Premier League's following continues to grow rapidly across the world, it appears "increasingly likely that within the next few years the value of the overseas broadcast rights will overtake those for the domestic market, so confirming the Premier League's increasing emphasis on growth overseas." While a growing number of domestic Premier League fans are "becoming detached from their clubs, particularly due to high ticket prices, overseas supporters are feeling more intimately engaged, not only with their clubs but with fellow fans in other countries and the Premier League soap opera as a whole." Key to this has been the "increasing number of countries over recent years where either most, or all 380, Premier League games are broadcast each season." Malaysia official Chelsea supporters club Chair Mohan Thambirajah said, "Being able to see most if not all of your team's games certainly increases the interest, and makes you feel more connected." Indonesia official Liverpool supporters' club manager Debbie Winardi added that as more games are shown, "overseas supporters increase." Winardi said, "A contributor to the phenomenon of the Premier League in Indonesia has been the growth of Premier League communities. Indonesians like to gather and be involved in communities, and this makes them more passionate about their clubs." But the biggest driver of the increasing engagement of overseas fans is "unquestionably digital and social media." And ManU is "leading the way." The club has partnerships with mobile telecom providers in 42 countries and TV providers in 54, while its website is available in seven languages. The club said that its website has "attracted on average over 60 million page views a month over the past year" (INDEPENDENT, 2/17).

F1 global TV audience fell last year, driven down by a 34% drop -- 25 million viewers -- in China "where several Asian races clashed with other local sports events," according to Christian Sylt of the London GUARDIAN. Several F1 races in Asia and the Middle East took place during the evening "so that they are broadcast in the morning in the sport's traditional heartland of Europe." However, this puts them in competition with local sports events and it "fuelled the fall in viewer numbers in China" from 74.5 million in '11 to 48.9 million last year. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that "a small handful of territories didn't meet expectations in terms of reach, with the Chinese market suffering a decrease, which could not be absorbed by a significant number of increases elsewhere." F1's largest market is Brazil where viewing figures "accelerated 8.9% year on year" to 85.6 million in '12. Improvements were also seen in Spain and Italy, where respective increases of 11.5% and 15% compared to '11 were "fuelled by the strong performance" of Spanish Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. U.K. coverage was split for the first time between the BBC and pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB in '12, "which led to viewing figures falling by 3.8 million to 28.6 million" (GUARDIAN, 2/15).

Nigeria Premier League broadcast partner Total Promotions has denied demanding N1.5B ($9.5M) from Globacom as "condition for relinquishing" the NPL title right to the telecoms company, according to THE GUARDIAN. In a release from Total Promotions, the company stressed that it demanded from Globacom N250M ($1.6M) for "an outright buy-out as the custodian of the title right in the last two years." The release said, “What we told Glo is that Total Promotions would have made N1.5B in television activation if MTN had been allowed to sponsor the league. How they arrived at that N1.5B figure is part of their agenda to call dog a bad name so that they can hang it. But it will never work." It added, “We are not a charity organization. We got the title right because we are in business and we won’t have to fold up because we demanded for a buy-out, which is the norm everywhere in the world" (THE GUARDIAN, 2/17).

German pay-TV channel Sky "recorded high ratings" for its broadcast of Friday's Bundesliga game between Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg, according to Manuel Nunez Sanchez of QUOTEN METER. The game, which started at 8:30pm, attracted 950,000 viewers. The number translated into a 3% market share. In the target age demographic of 14-49, Bayern's 2-0 victory was watched by 490,000 viewers, which equaled a 4.3% market share (QUOTEN METER, 2/16).

EUROPA LEAGUE: QUOTEN METER's Manuel Weis reported German private-TV channel Sat.1 "received top ratings" for its broadcast of Thursday's Europa League game between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Lazio. The game's first half attracted 2.84 million viewers and a 8.6% market share in the target demographic. During the second half of the game, the viewership increased to 3.30 million viewers and received a 13.1% market share. In the target demographic, the 3-3 draw obtained a 12.4% (QUOTEN METER, 2/15).