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Volume 6 No. 213


Australian Sports Commission Chair John Wylie said Monday that the ASC "was investigating the feasibility of a TV channel for sports that don't attract broadcasting fees from the established networks," according to Nicole Jeffery of THE AUSTRALIAN. Wylie said the ASC was encouraging sports to seek diversity in funding sources rather than relying on government handouts and he believed a "combined broadcasting channel" was an option worth pursuing. Wylie suggested that by banding together, "minor sports could create a sports network that might attract advertising to offset their costs." Wylie: "There's all sorts of delivery systems available now and the world is keen for content." The ASC "was about to conduct a feasibility study to see whether the proposal was workable" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/23). In Melbourne, John Stensholt wrote the channel would focus on lower profile sports in which Australia has success on the global stage, such as netball, rowing and hockey, "but which do not have much coverage on free-to-air networks." Many of those sports "attract the largest portion" of the government's A$120M ($122M) annual distribution to individual sports. Wylie: "It could be shown on Foxtel or it could be shown online via IPTV." The feasibility study would take about two months, "with a view to launching the channel next year" (AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW, 4/23).

German public broadcaster ARD Sports Dir Axel Balkausky told SBD Global the channel will not bid on additional Bundesliga rights but "continue with its very well-working program concept." The live rights for football Bundesliga games are in the hands of German pay-TV channel Sky until the end of the '16-17 season. Sky, which acquired the live rights for the next four seasons in '12, will pay an average of  €485.7M ($633M) per season starting with the '13-14 season. Asked if ARD will challenge Sky for the live Bundesliga rights when they are up again in '16, Balkausky said, "The way I see it, ARD will, also in 2016, continue with its very well-working program concept consisting of 'Sportschau Fußball-Bundesliga' and several live games -- opening games of the first and second half of the season, relegation games and DFL Supercup." Balkausky added: "Additional live rights beyond the existing ones will likely not be in our interest as those comprehensive live rights for Bundesliga games have produced very high prices in recent history, which makes them simply not viable for ARD." In addition to its "Sportschau Fußball-Bundesliga" to which an average of 4 million viewers tune in on Saturdays to watch the first free-to-air TV footage of Bundesliga games, ARD also has the live audio rights to Bundesliga games through '16-17. The "Bundesligakonferenz" (Bundesliga simulcast), featured since the league's inaugural season in '63-64, attracts up to 8 million listeners each week. Balkausky said, "The 'ARD Bundesligakonferenz' is indeed an institution. The purchase of the Bundesliga audio rights was certainly very important for its continued existence."

Al Jazeera is "eyeing the Tennis Channel as it looks to become a player" in the U.S. sports market, according to Claire Atkinson of the N.Y. POST. The Tennis Channel would "add to Al Jazeera’s growing collection of niche cable channels." A group of private equity firms, "including Apollo, Bain, Battery Ventures, CCMP Capital and Columbia Capital, owns the Tennis Channel." While the channel reaped about $100M in revenue last year, its value is "hard to peg, but sports programming is considered valuable to a lot of media players" (N.Y. POST, 4/19).

The Egyptian FA hopes to raise at least $17M in an auction this week of the premier league's TV broadcast rights "for clubs financially strapped by two years of political strife that has seen soccer suspended for much of that period and fans banned from attending matches," according to James M. Dorsey of MIDDLE EAST ONLINE. Egypt's Satellite Broadcasting Commission, headed by Cairo club Al Zamalek SC Chair Mamduh Abbas, has set EGP 120M ($17.3M) "as the starting price of the auction that does not include radio broadcast rights and gives the winner the ability to parcel out segments of the league to different broadcasters." The targeted price for TV broadcast rights constitutes a multiple of the $2.6M "paid by Qatar's state-run Al Jazeera network" in late '11. It was not immediately clear whether Al Jazeera would bid again for the rights that fit into its building of a significant sports franchise that includes the rights for 23 countries to the '18 and '22 World Cups "as well as to France's top league and the launch of a sports channel" in the U.S. A successful auction "would give a badly needed financial boost to clubs that are financially troubled and have often been unable to pay players as a result of Egypt's political volatility" (MIDDLE EAST ONLINE, 4/21).

Digital sports media group PERFORM announced an agreement to license the rights for over 2,000 annual events from MP & Silva. The rights package includes the Italian football league (Serie A), the French leagues and Cup (Ligue 1 and 2 and Coupe de la Ligue), Brazilian Serie A and Campeonato Paulista, Major League Soccer, Turkish Cup, the English Championship, League One and Two, The Capital One Cup, various ATP 250 tournaments, the ACB Spanish Basketball League, the European Handball Federation Champions League, the men's Italian Basketball League and the German Handball Bundesliga. The agreement clears the content for PERFORM's Watch&Bet live streaming service and runs from July 1, 2013 until June 30, 2015, covering the '13-14 and '14-15 season (Perform).

Austrian free-to-air TV channel ServusTV "recorded solid ratings with its broadcast of game four of the German Hockey League (DEL) finals on Sunday afternoon," according to Manuel Weis of QUOTENMETER. A total of 180,000 viewers tuned in to watch the Eisbären Berlin win its third consecutive championship. The game, which started at 2:15pm German time, received a 1.2% market share. In the target demographic 14-49, ServusTV obtained a 1.9% share for its broadcast of Berlin's 4-1 victory against Cologne to clinch the best-of-five series, 3-1. German sports network Sport1, which also aired hockey, "could not compete with ServusTV." The Euro Hockey Challenge matchup between Germany and Sweden received a 0.6% market share. In the target demographic, Germany's 5-2 victory attracted 40,000 viewers, which equaled a 0.7% share (QUOTENMETER, 4/22).

MOTORSPORTS: The DPA reported German free-to-air TV channel RTL "received top ratings for its broadcast of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix" on Sunday afternoon. A total 6.04 million viewers tuned in to watch defending world champion Sebastian Vettel win in the Gulf kingdom. The race, which started at 2pm German time, obtained a 39.4% market share (DPA, 4/22). ISPORTCONNECT's Jay Stuart reported coverage of MotoGP on Telecinco "scored the best ratings in primetime in Spain on Sunday, but Formula 1 on Antena 3 in the afternoon drew the day’s biggest audience." Spaniard Marc Marquez’s victory in the GP of the Americas motorcycling race in Austin, Texas averaged 4.062 million viewers and a share of 23.7%. The Bahrain F1 GP averaged 4.907 million and a share of 38.4%. In Italy, Italia 1’s live coverage of the MotoGP in primetime averaged 3.420 million and a share of 11.22%, better than the delayed broadcast of the F1 race on RAI2 with 2.469 million and a share of 6.31%. The live F1 race in the afternoon was on Sky Italia (ISPORTCONNECT, 4/22).

A-LEAGUE FINAL: In Sydney, Adno & Davutovic reported "the most successful season in A-League history was capped off with a record TV audience for Sunday's grand final." Some 297,000 people "tuned in to watch Western Sydney and Central Coast, while 42,102 people attended the match at Allianz Stadium." The '12-13 season broke all sorts of records: It was the "highest-rating A-League season with an average audience of 81,000." The previous best was 70,000 in '07-08; average audiences were up 23% from last season; games were watched by more than 2.8 million viewers; it had the highest-rating regular-season game ever -- the 164,000 who watched the round-two clash between Sydney FC and Newcastle; it had the three highest-rating rounds in A-League history -- 109,000 (rd 1), 105,000 (rd 2) and 103,000 (rd 5) (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/23).

European satellite broadcaster Sport Klub has agreed to a three-year deal to broadcast the Premier League in Eastern Euope after securing the licensing rights from IMG. The deal between IMG and Sport Klub's holding company, Adria Media, will see the broadcaster show 380 games live and delayed in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia (IMG).