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Volume 10 No. 24


 Sky TV "has lost the rights to screen next season's English Premier League and it is believed a new player to the market won the bid to broadcast to the popular football competition," according to Daniel Richardson of the APNZ. Int'l media rights company MP & Silva "holds the rights to the league and has accepted a bid from an offshore-based consortium which is likely to screen the Premier League as well as the French first division and Italy's Serie A." The new start-up is likely to charge a subscription in the vicinity of NZ$180-NZ$200 ($145-$161) per year but the main selling point is that punters "can watch any game they choose rather than be dictated to by television schedules." Sky insisted that "it did all it could to ensure football fans in New Zealand would be able to watch the Premier League this season." Sky spokesperson Kirsty Way said, "It is not like we didn't desperately want it. We put in a very high bid, our highest bid for it. So we are really disappointed" (APNZ, 6/18). ONE NEWS reported Sky "tried to assure its subscriber base that it would strive to broadcast top-level football in the future." A Sky statement read, "We are extremely disappointed to have missed out and seek to assure our football loving subscribers that this does not signal a change in our wishes to secure the best football matches that we can for you" (ONE NEWS, 6/18).

AND THE WINNER IS...: FAIRFAX NZ NEWS' Walters, Hunter & Pullar-Strecker reported the successful bidder was Coliseum Sports Media Management. Coliseum Sports Media "was established in New Zealand in June last year, with offices in Auckland and California." The company's directors "are listed as Peter Cooper and Matthew Cockram." Cooper is a California-based New Zealander said to be worth NZ$650M ($523M), a former exec director of Lion Nathan and founder of Cooper & Company. Cockram "is a lawyer." Craigs Investment Partners analyst Arie Decker said that "it was difficult to assess the impact of the news on Sky TV without understanding the business plan of the party winning the rights." He said, "If it's part of a strategy to acquire other rights off Sky then clearly the issues are greater. But on an isolated basis I wouldn't think the loss of these rights for a period of time would have a particularly significant influence on Sky" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 6/19). BUSINESS DESK's Paul McBeth reported shares in Sky Network Television sank 6% "after the pay-TV operator was outbid." The stock dropped 34 cents to NZ$5.33 as of midday, having touched a three-month low NZ$5.20, after it confirmed "losing the rights, despite putting up its biggest bid ever" (BUSINESS DESK, 6/19).

SUBSCRIBERS UPSET: ONE NEWS' Jessica Beresford reported "disgruntled Sky subscribers are threatening to cancel their contracts." Almost 2,000 people have to date joined a Facebook group called "Unsubscribing from Sky TV because no EPL" Wednesday afternoon, and many have taken to social media to air their grievances. The scheme announced Wednesday will see, which will be launched on Aug. 1, showing all 380 games of the season live, with 250 of those available on-demand for less than NZ$150 for the year. TV ONE will also deliver 38 "Match-of-the-Week" games every Sunday, as well as a highlights show aired on Monday evenings. TVNZ's Head of TV ONE & TV2 Jeff Latch said that he was thrilled to bring the Premiership back to TV ONE screens after a gap of many years. (ONE NEWS, 6/19).

BIG LOSS: FAIRFAX NZ NEWS' David Long opined "Sky TV's loss of the rights to screen English Premier League football is one of the most significant situations the pay-TV network has got itself into." A large number of people subscribe to Sky Sports for the English football -- "it's not a nice little add on." It is "all well and good for Sky TV to say they'll continue to cover the All Whites and Wellington Phoenix, but -- for the majority -- football is the Premier League." One thing that's for sure is Sky TV "won't drop their subscription costs, so viewers will be paying the same for less" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 6/19).

Network execs claim that "they will have an input in Australian cricket team selection policies and scheduling" under the company's new A$450M ($429M) broadcast deal, according to Michael Bodey of THE AUSTRALIAN. Nine Managing Dir Jeffrey Browne said the rotation policy that rested Australian team members from certain matches was a "real worry" in Nine's otherwise strong and longstanding relationship with Cricket Australia. He said, "I understand why sports want to do that but people at home want to see the best players playing and we urge Cricket Australia to pick the best players every time. Last year that balance was skewed too much in favour of resting some players, so from now on there will be a lot more discussion between CA and the broadcaster about that" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/20). ESPN's Daniel Brettig reported the issue of senior Australian players "being rested and rotated during the limited overs portion of the summer was a particular sore point with Nine last season." ESPNcricinfo reported in January that the CA team Performance Manager Pat Howard had two meetings with Nine Sport Dir Steve Crawley and members of the commentary team during the Sydney Test "to explain why Michael Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade were to be rested and Michael Hussey dropped." Browne was clearly of the view that such discussions "would become more consultative than merely explanatory in the future," but Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland was adamant that the national selectors would not be unduly influenced by the commercial demands of broadcasters (ESPN, 6/19).

GIVING A RESPONSE: In Sydney, Chris Barrett reported Sutherland responded on Wednesday, "countering a suggestion Nine would have any say in the make-up of national teams." He said, "Cricket has a long-standing and successful relationship with the Nine Network but team selections and scheduling are matters for Cricket Australia. The national selection panel selects the Australian teams. With the volume of international cricket being played, it will continue to be necessary for us to manage player workloads appropriately. We'll continue to consult with our broadcasters on scheduling issues" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/20).

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom "has opened an investigation" into BSkyB’s refusal to let BT carry two of its key sports channels, in "a sign of growing tensions between the two companies," according to Robert Budden of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The investigation by Ofcom "follows a complaint by BT" after BSkyB told the telecom operator that it would offer its Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels to BT’s YouView customers, but "only as long as BT sold access to its soon to be launched sports channels to Sky." The telecom operator "refused, insisting that such an offer was an abuse of Sky’s dominant position under the Competition Act" (FT, 6/19). In London, Josh Halliday reported BT claimed that Sky "had refused to supply its flagship sports channels to YouView unless the telecoms company agreed to offer wholesale its new BT Sport channel." Currently, Sky customers "can only watch BT Sport by purchasing a separate BT subscription." But Sky "wants to be able to bundle BT Sport into its existing subscription package for football fans." BSkyB Group Dir of Sales Graham McWilliam said, "In long negotiations with BT, we have tried hard to uphold a simple principle of mutual supply so that both of us would offer all our customers all Premier League matches from next season. However, BT has remained intent on a one-way deal which is loaded in its favour. This is not something that we -- or anyone else -- could reasonably have been expected to agree to" (GUARDIAN, 6/19). The BBC reported the BT complaint comes a week after Sky complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about BT's "adverts for its new sports service." Sky's complaint centers around BT's claim that it will provide "free" EPL coverage to its broadband customers, with Sky arguing that "there are other costs involved" (BBC, 6/19).

Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop said that "Australian sport's big boys should be peering over the shoulders, and now TV networks are joining the chorus" as football rides high on Australia's World Cup qualification, according to Bodey & Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. The Socceroos' final step to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil "propelled Foxtel and SBS One to their biggest audiences of the year." And Nine Network Managing Dir Jeffrey Browne confirmed that "all three commercial networks were likely to bid for broadcast rights to the code when they're next available." He said, "I would think by the time that comes around next time you'd certainly have a lot of interest from the Nine network and certainly (multi-channel) capacity and I know you'll have interest from Ten and I'd be surprised if you don't have interest from Seven as well." Gallop said that the domination of the Australian Football League and National Rugby League "was under threat." Armed with a new A$160M, four-year broadcast deal signed late last year and an expected A$12M ($11.4M) to come from FIFA just for qualifying, the former NRL CEO was not about to declare football "would would usurp the AFL and NRL but he still managed to fire a shot across their bows." Gallop said, "Football is the world game. It represents Australia in all its diversity, all its multiculturalism" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/20).

FIFA is "considering scrapping 3-D broadcasts of the next World Cup," describing ESPN’s decision to abandon the format as "another setback for the technology," according to Rob Harris of the AP. The sports network said that there "weren’t enough viewers in the United States to make 3-D broadcasts worth the investment," and ESPN’s dedicated channel "will close by the end of the year." FIFA TV Dir Niclas Ericson said, "The technology has had a few setbacks if you refer to some of the statements (by ESPN) ... it’s clear when a big sports broadcaster like ESPN makes an announcement like that it creates a lot of extra tension" (AP, 6/19).

The Australian national football team "not only delivered a spot in the 2014 FIFA World Cup" with Tuesday night's win, "but also a record audience for SBS," according to NEWS AUSTRALIA. More than 1.5 million people (1.1 million metro and 406,000 regional) "tuned in to watch the Socceroos defeat Iraq 1-0 at ANZ Stadium." The result "is SBS' highest rating program for 2013 and was the fifth most watched program" on free-to-air TV Tuesday night. It also "bettered last week's match between the Socceroos and Jordan, which was watched by a national audience of 1 million" (NEWS AUSTRALIA, 6/19).

COLD AS ICE: BLICK reported the "Int'l Ice Hockey Federation World Championship final between Sweden and Switzerland was the most-watched program in Switzerland between January-May." The final, which took place on May 19, "attracted 1.2 million viewers and had a 51.4% market share." The second most-watched program "was the men's ski World Cup downhill race in Wengen, Switzerland" on Jan. 19. The race attracted 909,000 viewers and had a 78.1% share (BLICK, 6/19).

SPAIN'S U21 VICTORY: The EFE reported Spain's 4-2 victory in Tuesday's Euro U21 championship against Italy was seen by 3.2 million people on Cuatro's broadcast of the game, according to information from Mediaset España. The broadcast earned a media share of 28.1%. It was the second-highest rated Cuatro broadcast since February (EFE, 6/19).