Telstra has ruled itself out of the race to acquire mobile and digital content rights for Australian cricket, "in a blow for the sport's hopes to attract a bidding war for the non-television portions of its rights," according to Mitchell Bingemann of THE AUSTRALIAN. Telstra Digital Media Head Mark Buckman said, "We've got no plans in the cricket space. We will always look at every opportunity as they present themselves if we think they are going to provide a compelling piece of content to our customers and if we think that we can make a business case out of it and make money out of it. But at this point we haven't got any plans to pursue anything with Cricket Australia in that respect." The confirmation of Telstra's exit from cricket bidding "comes as the telco giant last week announced a restructure of its digital media and IPTV division to simplify and align its operations, marketing and sales activities." It is believed the Ten Network is leading the race for the cricket rights with a bid of as much as A$350M ($367M) "to snare the television broadcast rights from incumbent Nine Entertainment." Nine, Ten, Seven West Media and Fox Sports Australia "are also in the running with bids." But with no clear bidder for mobile or online rights, "it is now possible the free-to-air TV broadcasters could also try to pick up the digital rights in a package deal with television broadcast content" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/15).
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and pay-TV network Sky have "discussed distributing free set-top boxes," which are required for picking up the sport, in order to increase viewing figures, according to Sylt & Reid of the London EXPRESS. F1's U.K. viewing figures fell by 3.8 million to 28.6 million in '12 "despite Sky launching a dedicated F1 channel." Last year, "Sky snatched the exclusive rights to F1 away from the BBC." The move "caused uproar from fans" due to the £318 ($487.88) minimum annual cost of the Sky package showing F1. In response to criticism from fans, Ecclestone said, “I said [to Sky] you can guarantee that when you put a Sky box in the house, although it is only for F1, people are going to say ‘why can’t I watch the rest’ and they will sign up.” Sky declined to comment (EXPRESS, 4/14).
BSkyB has "launched a scathing attack on BT, telling its rival to stop complaining about being blocked from running its Premier League ads on Sky Sports channels and calling it a '£22bn gorilla in puppy's clothing,'" according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. In the letter, BSkyB Corporate Affairs Dir Graham McWilliam said "BT's assertion earlier this week that it is 'happy to take Sky's advertising, but they seem afraid of taking ours' is wide of the mark." McWilliam: "BT advertises on Sky every month of the year and can promote its sports channels on all of our channels except Sky Sports. More pertinently, Sky is blacklisted by BT from advertising on the web portal aimed at its broadband customers." BSkyB said that "it is willing to run BT's multimillion-pound ad campaign promoting the launch of its sports channels, which includes promotion of its Premier League coverage, on its 100-plus other channels that it sells TV ad spots across." But the Sky Sports portfolio is out of bounds. McWilliam said, "This is perfectly reasonable given the billions that we have invested to build our brand." McWilliam added it would be like "Tesco being able to advertise inside Sainsbury's" if Sky were to allow BT to promote its Premier League coverage on its sports channels. McWilliam: "Before honing its soundbites or filing yet another complaint, this £22B ($33.75B) gorilla in puppy's clothing would do well to look at its own double standards" (GUARDIAN, 4/12).
In order to popularize archery in India, the World Archery Federation has "invited offers from Indian and sub-continental broadcasters for its world cup and world championship events" (THE HINDU, 4/13). ... Australia's Channel 7 and Royal Randwick "have been besieged with complaints" that Saturday's historic celebration of Black Caviar was "ruined by alleged footage of animal cruelty." Viewers "pointed to the peak audience moment" when Seven's mounted sports reporter Hamish McLachlan interviewed the great mare's jockey Luke Nolen while riding a horse named Snowy that was lame. Saturday's live race telecast of Black Caviar's superb sequence of 25 consecutive wins was watched by 1.127 million on Seven in Sydney (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/14).