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Volume 6 No. 211


BSkyB's refusal to run advertisements promoting BT's rival sports channels is being investigated by the Office of Communications "after the telecoms group expressed concerns that the satellite broadcaster was breaching TV advertising regulations," according to Robert Budden of the FINANCIAL TIMES. BT is looking to roll out as many as three sports channels this summer, as it seeks to ramp up its TV offering to attract new customers to its "triple-play" service: TV, home phone and broadband. By advertising the new service on Sky channels, "BT would have been able to target the satellite broadcaster's customer base" of more than 10 million homes. BT Vision, the telecoms operator's TV service, "currently has around 770,000 customers." However, while Sky already runs advertising for BT's telephone products across many of its channels, "it has argued that running BT Sport adverts could undermine the competitive offering of its own sports channels." Sky said, "There are many other avenues for BT to advertise its sports channels without seeking to take advantage of the investments that we've made to build Sky Sports. It's entirely reasonable for us to choose not to carry advertising for a directly competing service" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/8).

BITTER RIVALS: In London, Mark Sweney wrote BT complained to media watchdog Ofcom about the satellite giant's actions, "in an escalation of the bitter rivalry between the two media giants." A key part of BT's strategy to build awareness and viewers "is to run TV advertising on BSkyB targeting the existing football and sports fans" among its 10 million-plus subscriber base. However, BSkyB has refused to air BT's ad campaign -- "which as well as football was to highlight other sports it has secured TV rights for including Premiership Rugby, European Cup Rugby and top-flight women's tennis" -- although it is not clear on what grounds. BT has lodged a complaint with Ofcom on the grounds that BSkyB is showing "undue discrimination" against it by refusing to air the campaign. BT Retail Consumer Division Managing Dir John Petter said, "We are happy to take Sky's advertising but they seem afraid of taking ours. It's like a rottweiler running away from a newborn puppy" (GUARDIAN, 4/8). 

SENSING A THREAT? Also in London, Katherine Rushton wrote BSkyB, which is 39% owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said that it is "entirely reasonable" to block a competitor's adverts on its own sports channels. Although BT has had a relatively small television service for some time, "the telecoms company caught BSkyB off-guard" when it staked a £738M ($1.12B) bet on Premier League rights last June. BSkyB has downplayed the threat that BT poses, "but industry analysts have interpreted its decision to block BT adverts as an indication that it is feeling vulnerable" (TELEGRAPH, 4/8). In L.A., Georg Szalai wrote, "ESPN as a current Premier League rightsholder has run soccer ads on BSkyB's Sky Sports." However, "it has a deal to carry BSkyB channels, while BSkyB carries ESPN." BT "does not currently have a deal" to air its sports networks on BSkyB (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 4/8).

German pay-TV channel Sky "set a new viewership record with its broadcast of the Bundesliga on Saturday afternoon," according to Alexander Krei of DWDL. A total of 1.45 million viewers tuned in on Saturday to watch one of the five individual games, which started at 3:30pm German time, or Sky's simulcast. The number translated into a 10.2% market share. In the target demographic 14-49, Sky obtained a 12% share. In addition, the game between Hamburg and Freiburg, which started at 6:30pm German time, attracted 710,000 viewers and a 3.9% market share in the target demographic (DWDL, 4/8).

SPORT1 QUIZ: DWDL's Krei also reported German sports network Sport1 launched a new sports quiz show on Tuesday. The show, called "Laufband-Quiz," attracted 70,000 viewers to its first episode, which translated into a 0.7% market share in the target demographic. The episodes on Wednesday and Thursday did not draw as well, with 50,000 and 40,000 viewers, respectively. The market shares in the target demographic were 0.2% on Wednesday and 0.4% on Thursday (DWDL, 4/8).

The final series of the Geman Hockey League (DEL) will air live on free-to-air TV channel ServusTV as well as online on In cooperation with the two DEL media parterns, and will also broadcast the final series online. The Axel Springer AG, with owns both websites, has signed an agreement with DEL rights holder the sportsman media group (DEL). ... The German Football League (DFL) has selected ChyronHego to provide real-time digital sports data for the Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga's live sporting broadcasts. ChyronHego's TRACAB system will be used to collect player and ball statistics in unprecedented detail for the span of the four year contract, valid until the close of the '16-17 season (DFL). ... The Zume Media Dashboard, a new digital platform that enhances sports experiences for fans, launched at the NAB show Sunday in Las Vegas. Zume also announced it will stream live and video-on-demand content to Japanese users for the '13 F1 season on smartphones, tablets and through the web, with a distribution partner soon to be announced (Zume).