ITV Wins Rights To Broadcast England's Qualifying Matches In $150M Deal
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).