More than 500,000 U.K. households have signed up for the new TV sports channels offered by BT, the telecom group that has "spent heavily on the rights to show top football matches in a bid to take on British Sky Broadcasting," according to Adam Jones of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Announcing first-quarter profits "that beat expectations," BT said it was “very pleased” with the number of customers who had signed up for the channels, which are "free to those who already pay for its broadband internet services." BT CEO Ian Livingston said it was still “early days” for BT Sport, which launches on Aug. 1. Livingston: "It’s a very encouraging start" (FT, 7/25).
NOT AS IT SEEMS: In London, Mark Sweney reported the company admitted this is "mostly" existing customers who have taken the channels for free as part of renewing their BT broadband contracts. The majority "are also taking BT Sport via satellite, so do not count as standalone subscribers to the company's pay-TV service." The company "will be concerned" that the rate of growth of new pay-TV subscribers is down by almost 43% -- "it signed up 40,000 subscribers in the previous quarter" -- despite running "a star-studded multimillion-pound ad campaign to entice new customers to its TV service" (GUARDIAN, 7/25). Also in London, Chris Johnston reported the launch of BT Sport next week "is intended to boost customer loyalty and the amount they will spend, while reducing the number of subscribers who opt to take broadband and telephony from Sky." Market research group CCS Insight's Paolo Pescatore said, "BT has made a great start with BT Sport and BSkyB should take note. Half a million customers in the last couple of months is an impressive feat -- more so given that the service is not commercially available yet. This take-up underlines the key battle for broadband customers in the U.K. What BT must now focus on is luring users from its rivals" (LONDON TIMES, 7/25).
Liverpool sees social media "as the Trojan horse to unlock" the commercial potential of Asia's 4 billion consumers, according to Ian Ransom of REUTERS. Engaging with its global support base via social media channels "has become an increasingly essential way for the Merseyside club to attract new sponsors in emerging markets and convince the existing ones to stay on board during a lean period on-field." Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre said, "We made a conscious effort to boost our social media presence about 18 months ago. We took the view that the real relationship with a fan is having true engagement. You can have millions of fans as you want, but if you're not communicating with them, how are you really establishing that relationship?" Asia "has been at the centre of Liverpool's online charm offensive, with commercial managers deployed at a number of markets to generate localised content." The past year "has seen a flurry of new country-specific websites and social media accounts in a bid to convert casual fans into hooked-up, digital consumers" (REUTERS, 7/25).
ONE World Sports has secured season-long rights to broadcast delayed Arsenal matches, as well as broadcast exclusive player and manager interviews. The deal follows similar agreements between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. ONE World Sports has acquired North American rights to the three teams' programming and will include these telecasts in a soon-to-be-debuted mobile app. For each of the European football clubs, ONE World Sport will present three-hour blocks of delayed gamecasts accompanied by interviews, features and analysis after the games. Arsenal's programming block is scheduled to air on Sunday nights starting at 9pm EST. Chelsea and Bayern Munich programming will be telecast Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively (ONE World Sports).
German public broadcaster ZDF "has recorded outstanding ratings for its broadcast of the UEFA Women's Euro 2013 semifinal between Germany and Sweden," according to Daniel Sallhoff of QUOTENMETER. A total of 8.22 million viewers tuned in to watch the match. The number translated into a market share of 29.9%, which was a new record for the event. In the target demographic 14-49, Germany's 1-0 victory attracted an average of 2.22 million viewers and obtained a 21.9% market share. Ahead of the semifinal, ZDF showed the friendly between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona, part of the preseason Uli Hoeneß Cup. A total of 5.11 million viewers tuned in to the game, which started at 6:48pm. The number equaled a 23.5% share as well as 17.6% in the target demographic. In addition, German pay-TV channel Sky's broadcast of the friendly was watched by 60,000 viewers and had a 0.3% share. In the target demographic 14-49, Bayern's 2-0 victory attracted 30,000 viewers and reached a 0.4% market share (QUOTENMETER, 7/25).
Cricket Australia announced that the finals of the Australian Open Indoor Championships, to be played Friday and Saturday in Brisbane, will be streamed live on cricket.com.au (CA). ... The 2013 Women’s CEV Volleyball European Championship will be broadcast by a total of 28 TV stations worldwide. Rights-holder Infront Sports & Media will also coordinate the TV production of the Championship. Most of the 28 TV channels covering the event are European. In addition, Al Jazeera and Sport+ will be airing the Championship on African soil, Fox Sports in Asia, while Bandsport (Brazil), Sky (Mexico) and BeIN Sport (Canada and the U.S.) will spread footage of the competition across the Americas (Infront).