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Volume 6 No. 217


An "ambitious plan" to send TV cameras into Premier League dressing rooms following matches "has been launched by BT Sport executives keen to extract the most value from their mega-money rights deal," according to Laurie Whitwell of the London DAILY MAIL. Producers at the new channel, which begins programming Thursday, "want to replicate the access granted to sports broadcasters in America, who are routinely allowed inside teams' changing areas almost immediately after full-time." BT Sport paid £738M ($1.1B) to show 38 live games in each of the next three seasons, and high-level figures "are talking about 'fresh ideas' potentially 'changing the game' after years of Sky dominance." BT Sport Exec Producer Grant Best has revealed that "top-flight clubs are not dismissing the possibility of opening their doors but conceded it would take Sky to join the lobbying process for the proposal to succeed." One major change this season is that a player and manager from each team must answer three questions from a TV reporter before every match -- "regardless of whether or not it is live on British screens" -- after they have arrived at the ground. Such plans are another sign that BT Sport is determined "to compete for the next round of Premier League packages in three years' time." BT's studios, situated in an 80,000 square feet area of Olympic Park, in Stratford, "have been finished in less than six months and are being branded 'unique' to sports broadcasting." The self-proclaimed jewel in the crown is a 20 square meter green glass floor underlined by LED strip lights that can illuminate to display a manner of pitch markings, "both for football and rugby but also tennis and netball" (DAILY MAIL, 7/25).

NOT A THREAT: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Jones & Budden wrote BSkyB "shrugged off the mounting threat posed by BT in televised sport on Friday, as robust annual results enabled it to increase its dividend by almost a fifth and to promise further share buybacks." BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch played down the launch of BT's sports channels, which will feature live EPL football matches -- "a niche BSkyB has profitably dominated by means of its Sky Sports arm." Darroch said that "Sky Sports was thriving and had customers who remained very loyal." Darroch: "We feel very good about where Sky Sports is and what we have got planned." Only days before BT Sport's launch on Thursday, BSkyB on Friday launched a £9.99 ($15.37) gadget that can be plugged into a TV "to allow non-subscribers to watch its sports coverage over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis." Although "some content will be free after the initial purchase," users would need to pay an additional £9.99 to access Sky Sports channels. On-demand films "would also cost extra." The launch "was seen as an attempt by the satellite broadcaster to grab market share" from the estimated 11 million Freeview households in the U.K. which do not subscribe to any form of pay TV (FT, 7/26).

Motorsports governing body FIA has sent a statement to the TV channels covering F1 stating that "they will be allowed to station one reporter and one camera in the pit lanes during each free practice session," according to MARCA. It "signals an end to the outright ban that was instated following the accident" suffered by Formula One Management cameraman Paul Allen, who was struck by a loose wheel from the vehicle of Mark Webber at the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring three weeks ago. The blanket ban on anyone other than marshals and team personnel "is believed to have provoked widespread protests from several channels," which pointed to the provision in their contracts giving them the right to be present during practice sessions (MARCA, 7/25).

German public broadcaster ZDF "has obtained high ratings for its broadcast of the German Supercup game between Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich and Cup runner-up Borussia Dortmund," according to Manuel Nunez Sanchez of QUOTENMETER. A total of 6.91 million viewers tuned in on Saturday at 8:30pm "to watch the matchup between Germany's top two teams." The number translated into a 31.1% market share. In the target demographic 14-49, Dortmund's 4-2 victory attracted 2.04 million viewers and had a 27.1% share. ZDF's 15-minute pregame coverage was watched by 5.62 million viewers and recorded a 26.6% market share. In the target demographic, the pregame broadcast had a  22.6% share (QUOTENMETER, 7/28).

Sky "has secured the New Zealand television broadcast rights for the 2015 Cricket World Cup," according to FAIRFAX NZ NEWS. The subscription deal "means every game of the tournament, co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, will be screened live." Free-to-air coverage "will also be available, although details are still to be confirmed." Sky was "awarded the rights by Star Sports," the Int'l Cricket Council's global media rights and broadcast partner (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 7/26). "is launching a monthly sports and fitness magazine, published by Haymarket Network" and available for £1 ($1.54) in stores and newsstands, according to Susan Billinge of BRAND REPUBLIC. The title launched in Sports Direct stores Saturday and "will be available in retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose, WHSmith, Co-op and Morrisons" on Tuesday. The first issue "will roll out as a split-cover run." Readers "will be able to choose between a splash of Carl Froch, the world champion boxer, or the alternative cover that features a female model." The title's 132 pages of content cover "a mix of sport and fitness news, including a personal training section fronted by Gemma Atkinson." Editor Gershon Portoi said, "This is a bold new title for people interested in sports and fitness, who aren’t currently being served by other more niche magazines. It’s accessible, useful, packed with value and I’m really excited about the launch" (BRAND REPUBLIC, 7/26).