BSkyB "has revealed strong growth in subscription numbers in the third quarter, ahead of the relaunch of a rival TV service by BT this summer," according to Daniel Thomas of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Sky and BT "will go more directly head to head this summer with combined phone and TV bundles." But first advantage has gone to the U.K.-based satellite company following rapid growth in the same Internet-connected TV services that BT "is hoping will bring in new customers for its core broadband and phone products." BSkyB said that "subscriptions had grown 715,000 in the third quarter." BSkyB said that "it had secured the live rights to the U.S. Open and ATP World Tour tennis, bolstering its own sports content ahead of BT’s forthcoming rival channels that will show about 38 English Premier League football games starting next season as well as Premiership rugby and other sports" (FT, 5/2).
Sky Sports "has signed a four-year deal to broadcast rugby matches from the RaboDirect Pro12," starting in the '14-15 season, according to WALES ONLINE. The deal, "which will be in addition to the current arrangements in place with local broadcasters such as BBC Wales and S4C," will signal a boost of around 50% on existing TV revenues. Under the terms of the new deal, "Sky will show 30 live matches, plus the semi-finals and the final, with the latter being broadcast alongside regional broadcasters" (WALES ONLINE, 5/2). In London, Gavin Mairs wrote the RaboDirect Pro12 league announced a "lucrative" new TV deal with Sky Sports. It is expected that "under a new four-year deal with the satellite broadcaster," which will begin for the '14-15 season, 30 games a season will be shown on Saturdays. It will mark an increase of more than 50% on existing TV revenues, "which are shared between the Welsh, Scottish and Irish Unions." The Pro12 currently has agreements with regional broadcasters BBC ALBA, BBC Northern Ireland, RTE, TG4, BBC Wales and S4C, "but it is thought that the new Sky deal will be an addition to those contracts and not replace them." The deal "will not only ensure that the tournament is broadcast nationwide for the first time," but also result in 125 of the 135 games being televised live. Sky Sports will also gain the rights to broadcast the semifinals and finals live, "in conjunction with the territorial broadcaster where those games take place" (TELEGRAPH, 5/1).
German public broadcaster ZDF "has set a new record with its broadcast of the second leg of the Champions League semifinal between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona," according to Manuel Weis of QUOTENMETER. An average of 15.91 million viewers tuned in to watch the game on Wednesday night. ZDF's previous Champions League record of 13.70 million viewers was set during the first leg of this year's second semifinal matchup between Dortmund and Madrid on April 24. The Bayern-Barça game, which started at 8:45pm, "obtained an unbeatable market share" of 46.2%. In the target demographic 14-49, Bayern's 3-0 victory attracted 6.25 million viewers, which equaled a 44.2% share. Bayern advanced to the Champions League final on an aggregate score of 7-0. The final, which will be played at Wembley Stadium on May 25, will feature German sides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund (QUOTENMETER, 5/2).