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Volume 6 No. 193


ITV "has won the exclusive live rights" to televise England's competitive football matches at home and away for the next four years in a £100M ($153M) deal, covering the 2016 Euro and 2018 World Cup qualifying competitions, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Meanwhile, Sky Sports "has won the rights to all the live qualifying matches" involving Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland at home and away and will show highlights of England's games. The deal "is a coup for ITV," which has attracted healthy audiences for its England ties, and will be able to market itself "as the home of all competitive internationals for the next four years." For Sky, the deal "means that it has successfully frozen out new challenger BT Sport from showing any competitive internationals involving the home nations for the next four years." ITV "will also show 20 matches on ITV4." It "will be allowed to show 10 games from other nations across each qualifying competition," getting the first pick of all matches not involving the home nations or Ireland for the first eight matchdays, and second pick behind Sky "on the climactic ninth and 10th" (GUARDIAN, 5/14). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported UEFA "is auctioning rights for qualifying games on a central basis for the first time, rather than leaving national associations to sell them piecemeal." UEFA believes that central selling and improved marketing of the matches "will make them more valuable, pointing to the success of a similar arrangement for Champions League games involving Europe's top clubs" (REUTERS, 5/14).

A MIXED BAG: In London, Wilson noted on the Guardian's Talking Sport blog the deal "means the broadcaster can market itself as the home of all England's competitive internationals," including the 2016 Euro and 2018 World Cup qualifying competitions. ITV "avoids the need to have to tie up individual deals for away matches on a match-by-match basis, as is currently the case." For ITV execs then, the deal "is a cause for celebration." Judging by the reaction to date on Twitter and other social networks, "viewers are not so sure." Being able to consolidate all England's competitive internationals, home and away, in one place for the next four years through UEFA's new centralized sales process "should please ITV's shareholders and advertisers." How fans will feel "is another matter entirely." ITV's coverage has "been dogged in recent years by the sort of unfortunate high-profile gaffes that tend to establish the sort of reputation that is difficult to shrug off" (GUARDIAN, 5/14).

British TV broadcaster Channel 4 has reported a loss of £29M ($44M) for '12, "as intended, as part of a strategy of extra investment in content including its acclaimed London 2012 Paralympics coverage and building its digital audience data operation," according to Sweney & Plunkett of the London GUARDIAN. The broadcaster said that its investment on original programming "reached a record high last year" of £434M ($660M), up 3% year on year, but "below the original target" of £455M ($692M). Total content spent was £608M ($925M) for the year. Channel 4's board said that given the success of the Paralympics, all of its 700-plus staff, from CEO to receptionists, "received a 2.5% bonus." Channel 4 CEO David Abraham, who received a 6% boost to his total remuneration to £744,000 ($1.1M) last year, said the broadcaster had decided to "prudently" run down some of its reserves to spend on the Paralympics and new technology such as its new digital channel, 4Seven. Abraham: "Having built up our cash reserves to beyond the required levels we now have a planned deficit while we reinvest the surplus in our future." Abraham "would not be drawn on the likely size of the deficit this year," beyond that it was "not our intention" to be larger than the £29M shortfall in '12. The broadcaster's total bill for gross salaries was £55M ($83M), with 716 full-time staff and 79 contractors, which means that the Paralympics payout was about £1.4M ($2.1M) in total (GUARDIAN, 5/14).

FLAT LINING: In London, Christopher Williams reported advertising and sponsorship revenues "were flat" at £844M ($1.2B). On demand revenues grew 50% to £36M ($54M), but "not enough to offset" a 1.7% decline in total revenues. Abraham said that future growth "would come from new advertising deals" that take advantage of the 6.3 million viewers who have now registered on Channel 4’s website (TELEGRAPH, 5/14). MEDIA WEEK's Maisie McCabe reported non-linear revenues grew 50% year on year to £36M, which Channel 4 "attributed to high yields and innovation in advertising formats, supported by its data initiatives." Channel 4’s sales house, which also sold advertising for UKTV and PBS in '12, "generated total sales in excess of" £1B ($1.5B) for the second year in a row (MEDIA WEEK, 5/14).

The Seven Network and Fox Footy's Australian Football League are "kicking goals with another Monday night success" after the biggest Friday night AFL audience ever, according to Michael Bodey of THE AUSTRALIAN. Monday night's broadcast of St. Kilda's victory over Carlton "was well up on last year's average audience in Melbourne," with 371,000 viewers on Seven beating last year's audience of 327,000. The match, "broadcast nationally on 7mate, had an average national audience" of 1.1 million. That audience followed Friday night's "top-of-the-table clash between Geelong and Essendon," which was the fifth-most-watched home-and-away match ever and the "highest-rating Friday night AFL match since the introduction of the OzTAM ratings system in 2001" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 5/15).

Swiss public broadcaster SRG SSR has extended its broadcast rights deal with MotoGP rights holder Dorna Sports for another three years. The broadcaster will continue its MotoGP and Moto2 coverage, on TV, radio and online, until the end of '16 (SRG SSR). ... World Archery has signed a partnership with digital sports video news agency SendtoNews to distribute event highlights and other video content through its News Partnership Network, comprised of top TV, radio, print and online news outlets throughout North America and abroad (World Archery). ... Ascot Racecourse has appointed Promote PR "to generate media coverage for a number of racing events this summer," including Royal Ascot (PRWEEK, 5/13). ... Media platform FTBpro has raised $5.8M from Israeli investors Battery Ventures and Gemini Israel Ventures to "expand its 'fan-generated' content offering into new markets" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 5/13). ... After "a two-year wait," the Italian Antitrust Authority (AGCM) has ruled in favor of Italian pay-TV channel Sky Italia that there "is no evidence the broadcaster abused its dominant position in its acquisition of Champions League TV rights" ('12-15) and FIFA World Cup rights for '10 and '14 (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 5/14). ... ESPN FC will launch a daily studio show on ESPN2 beginning Aug. 11 that will feature football highlights from major football leagues in Europe as well as Major League Soccer and the U.S. and Mexico men's national teams (ESPN, 5/14).