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Volume 6 No. 215
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BBC, BT Sport To Share FA Cup TV Rights In Four-Year Deal Beginning In '14-15

The world's oldest knockout cup competition "is to return to the BBC after an absence of seven years," as part of a deal for the FA Cup in which it will "share the rights with new entrant BT Sport," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The contract, which runs for four years beginning in '14-15, means that FA Cup ties "will be shared between the BBC and BT while ITV retains the rights to England's home matches." Added together, the FA's income for the FA Cup and England's home matches is "believed to be approaching the high watermark" of the £425M ($645M) paid by ITV and Setanta in '07. The FA "has periodically considered radical changes to the FA Cup format," but claimed last season that "more subtle moves," including the controversial decision to kick off the final at 5:15pm, "had helped reinvigorate it." The teatime kick-off "is likely to stay under the new deal" (GUARDIAN, 7/17). In London, Ben Rumsby reported that contract, agreed through UEFA’s new central sales strategy, "also saw BSkyB awarded an England highlights package and live rights for the other home nations and the Republic of Ireland’s live qualifying matches." Keeping the FA Cup "will be seen as crucial by BT," which also has 38 live Premier League matches but needed to buy out ESPN’s U.K. business to "secure some of its other football rights" (TELEGRAPH, 7/17).

THE DETAILS: The BBC's Phil McNulty reported BBC One "will broadcast the competition, with live streaming available across online, mobile and tablet devices." BBC Dir General Tony Hall said, "Bringing the FA Cup back to the BBC was something I really wanted to do." Details of how many games will be shown live by the BBC "have yet to be released." Radio coverage of the FA Cup "also continues on BBC Radio 5 live" until '18. Presenter Gary Lineker, who will lead the BBC presentation and "was involved in the pitch to win the rights," said, "It is terrific news. We have the European Championships, World Cup, Confederations Cup and we've got the Women's Euros 2013" (BBC, 7/17).

FAN FAVORITE: In London, Robert Budden reported research conducted by London-based research agency Brand Driver rated the FA Cup as "the second most popular competition" among U.K. sports fans, with two-thirds of those questioned saying that they "were interested in the matches." It scored "more highly than Champions League football, Wimbledon and Formula One." However, ITV has found that the FA Cup was "a less attractive asset for pulling in advertisers than some other sports coverage, according to people familiar with its bid" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/17).

FOOTBALL EVOLUTION: In L.A., Stuart Kemp reported the landscape for British football rights "continues to evolve." Rupert Murdoch's News U.K. "sealed a deal to make it the exclusive place for online and mobile clips of all FA Cup and some other games soon after the matches end." The company previously struck a deal for EPL games across its digital platforms for tabloid The Sun, the Times of London and the Sunday Times. News U.K. CEO Mike Darcey described the extensive clip deal as a "significant enhancement of our sports offering to all our readers." Financial details weren't disclosed (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/17).