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Volume 6 No. 211


Sky is "planning to rebrand one of its channels for a single sport for the first time as it establishes Sky Ashes," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Sky Sports 2 "will be renamed as Sky Ashes" for 63 days over the summer to "provide a home for Sky's live Ashes coverage."  The move comes just before the launch of BT Sport, Sky's "most serious rival yet." It will "also feature the women's Ashes, domestic cricket and various magazine and review shows, with the aim of underlining the broadcaster's commitment to cricket." The rebranding operation "takes in the period when BT Sport is expected to launch two sports channels." BT Sport will offer its coverage, plus ESPN, free to any customer taking its broadband package. The move "is expected to usher in a new era of competition for Sky, which has previously seen off ITV Digital and Setanta" (GUARDIAN, 6/13).

WALL-TO-WALL CRICKET: In Manchester, Denise Evans reported the channel "will be available at no extra cost to customers." England cricket legend and Sky Sports commentator Ian Botham said, "This is wall-to-wall cricket, on one channel, for the key months of the summer. The Ashes is the pinnacle of Test cricket and when it comes to television, cricket fans have never had it so good" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 6/13). In London, David Kent reported Sky has an agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board to provide England int'ls through '17, and "will hope this channel will outline their commitment to the sport." Sky has "impressed viewers with their coverage of cricket up until now with uninterrupted coverage, especially as the two Ashes series screened by Channel Four featured over 33 hours of interruptions for horse racing." Sky Go will "mean that the channel will be available on PC and mobile devices'' (DAILY MAIL, 6/13).

German media corporation Axel Springer has started roaming the market this spring to sell its cross media advertising packages for football. The highlight of Bild's sales pitch is its moving picture rights for the Bundesliga starting next season. The Berlin-based company wants to generate €13M-€14M ($17.3M-$18.6M) per season with the sale of its cross media advertising packages. Axel Springer offers a total of four different packages. Each of the packages can be purchased for a minimum of one season and includes all Bild distribution channels surrounding its football editorials. An advertising partner will receive print presence (Bild, Bild am Sonntag) as well as digital presence on tablets, smartphones or TVs. The most comprehensive and therefore the most expensive ad package is called "Premium Partner Package," which has a price between €5M-€6M ($6.7M-$8M) (SPONSORs).

Tennis Australia "is remaining silent about its curious decision to sign a new five-year broadcasting deal with Seven West Media without testing the value of the rights on an open market thirsty for premium sports content," amid claims the strategy has cost the sport up to A$50M ($47.9M) in lost revenue, according to Linda Pearce of THE AGE. While it is believed the new contract is worth more than the estimated A$35M-A$40M a year for five years being reported, "there is still no explanation for the decision not to open the rights up to tender after Seven's exclusive six-month negotiating period ended" on Sept. 30. Ten spokesperson Neil Shoebridge said, "We find it extraordinary that Tennis Australia has not put this out to tender when they indicated to us, and to Nine, that they would do that. It wouldn't have cost them one cent to test the market to see what others would have come up with" (THE AGE, 6/14).

Wimbledon 2013 will be the BBC's biggest ever on digital with a record 10 live streams available on computer, tablet, mobile and connected TV. BBC One, BBC One HD, BBC Two and BBC Two HD will have more live coverage. New faces include nine-time champion Martina Navratilova on TV and '01 champion Goran Ivanisevic on radio (BBC).

Spanish pay-TV network Gol T has received the broadcast rights for the 2014 World Cup, according to ECOTEUVE. The games will be broadcast through Mediapro, which was not able to sell the pay-TV rights for the World Cup to either Digital + or Telefónica. Because of this, Mediapro will air the broadcasts on its sports channel Gol T. With "Gol Stadium, the entire World Cup will also be available for Gol T customers from any location with Internet." During the 32 days of the World Cup, Gol T will broadcast a special program covering everything from the World Cup. In addition to all the games, "the channel will offer practices and live press conferences, player interviews, analysis and opinions from experts." The channel's commentators will join the best int'l experts for each national team (ECOTEUVE, 6/13). ESTRELLA DIGITAL reported that Mediapro paid more than €60M ($79.9M) for the 2010 World Cup, and later tried to make a profit by selling an eight-game package to Telecinco. Now, Mediapro will not have this opportunity because Mediaset España has acquired 25 World Cup games of its own. Under the agreement between Gol T and FIFA, the channel will broadcast the 64 games, (39 of them exclusively) of the competition, including every game involving the Spanish national team. This effort will attempt to reverse the continued decrease in subscribers, as last year ended with 290,000, 93,000 fewer than in '11 (ESTRELLA DIGITAL, 6/13).

CANAL+ CONFLICT: Prisa's pay-TV division Canal+ said Thursday that it has retained €22M ($29.3M) in payments due to Mediapro, according to REUTERS. A Canal+ auditor found significant differences between the costs assigned by Mediapro and its receipts, which caused an over-pricing of nearly €30M ($40M) for the '12-13 season. Mediapro denied failure to meet the contracts signed with Prisa and said that "Canal+ could not unilaterally decide the payment amounts between the two parties" (REUTERS, 6/13).

German free-to-air TV channel kabel eins "recorded disappointing ratings with its broadcast of the UEFA U21 European Championship group-stage game between Russia and Germany" on Wednesday evening, according to Sidney Schering of QUOTENMETER. The game, which started at 6pm German time, attracted 490,000 viewers during the first half. In the target demographic 14-49, the first half was watched by 140,000 viewers. The number translated into a 3.3% market share and a 2.8% share in the target demographic. The second half of the match "received even lower ratings." A total of 540,000 tuned in to watch the second half of the game, which equaled a 2.7% share. In the target demographic, Germany's 2-1 victory attracted 120,000 and reached a 1.9% share during the second half (QUOTENMETER, 6/13).

DOWN UNDER: The 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Australian and Jordan on Tuesday reached more than 1.4 million viewers nationally. Fox Sports recorded its fourth hightest Socceroos match of all time, while SBS saw its ratings climb above 1 million viewers, making it the highest rating prgram on SBS for the year (Football Federation Australia).

RTÉ Sport has confirmed that it will no longer have the rights to TV coverage of the Premier League. A statement from RTÉ Sport said, "As part of an organisation-wide cost cutting initiative RTÉ’s Director General has publicly stated that the cost of sports rights must be reduced by 25% from 2011 levels by 2015." RTÉ’s Group Head of Sport Ryle Nugent said that national teams and games will remain the priority of the broadcaster (RTÉ). ... Infront Sports & Media has sealed a complementary agreement with long-term partner Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) for the FIS Nordic Ski World Cup events taking place in Finland. The new contract runs for the '13-14 to '15-16 seasons. It covers the rights for live, delayed and highlights coverage of all Finish FIS World Cup events in cross country, ski jumping and Nordic combined (Infront).