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Volume 6 No. 214


ManU "is to test the strength of its global fan base by screening a preseason friendly on its club website and charging a one-off pay-per-view fee," according to Blitz & Davies of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The club’s friendly against AIK Fotboll in Stockholm on Tuesday "will be available for viewing live on any Internet device." The club is charging £5.95, or a comparable amount in euros or U.S. dollars. ManU "has repeatedly claimed it has 659m global followers." A spokesperson said that "the screening was a trial to test the technology and demand." Friendly matches "offer the club a one-off opportunity to generate extra income, and the Stockholm game gives United the chance to gauge how well it can monetise future friendlies." Host broadcaster Viasat "retains the rights for the game in Sweden," but ManU has the rights for the rest of the world (FT, 7/30).

Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore believes it is "highly unlikely" there will ever be regular dressing-room access for broadcasters at games, according to Jamie Jackson of the London GUARDIAN. BT Sport, which paid £738M ($1.1B) to broadcast 38 live games, recently made public its desire for dressing-room access during broadcasts. Asked if access for TV cameras would ever be granted, Scudamore said, "It's highly unlikely. We've had a media access working group working on this topic for the last 18 months." He added, "I think there should be better access for media for managers and players and I think it's one of the regrets that we can't provide more access. But the slightly gimmicky idea of locker-room access -- I'm not sure that's necessarily a good idea." BT Exec Producer Grant Best claimed that access to Premier League changing rooms "could happen but Sky Sports would have to join the lobbying." Best, who "was a match director at Sky for 15 years in between two spells working in the US for ESPN, where such access is normal," said, "There are a number of areas where we're talking to clubs to try to get access" (GUARDIAN, 7/30).

Newly created German pay-TV channel Sport1 US HD, which is owned by media corporation Constantin Medien, "has acquired the U.S. sports rights of folding channel ESPN America," according to Manuel Nunez Sanchez of QUOTENMETER. The rights package "includes, among others, NBA, NFL, IndyCar, college football and college basketball." The new channel, which will start broadcasting on Thursday, "will be available exclusively to Sky satellite customers in Germany and Austria that have subscribed to either the Bundesliga or Sports Package." In addition, Sport1 US HD "has secured multi-feed rights, which enables customers to switch between simultaneously occuring NFL games." The new channel "will also be carried by cable providers Kabel Deutschland, Unitymedia and Kabel BW." The channel "will air up to seven NFL games per week as well as every playoff game." The NBA will be featured with three weekly games. In both cases, subscribers "can choose between German or original English commentary" (QUOTENMETER, 7/30).

SPORTDIGITAL DEALS: DIGITALFERNSEHEN reported German pay-TV channel sportdigital, which was also interested in acquiring ESPN America's U.S. sports rights, "has signed deals with the Argentine Primera División, the English League Championship and the Capital One Cup, the English league cup." In addition, sportdigital will air a new magazine show called "Football's Greatest Series," which will profile the world's top 10 national teams and the best 16 club teams during their glory days (DIGITALFERNSEHEN, 7/30).

Football fans will be able to watch the EPL on both SingTel and StarHub pay-TV platforms "for the first time over the next three seasons," according to Gregory Loo of THE NEW PAPER. Minister for Communications & Information Yaacob Ibrahim rejected SingTel's appeal against a Media Development Authority direction made last month to cross-carry "live" EPL matches for the next three seasons. But the a-la-carte EPL content, with nine channels, will cost $59.90 per month "for both SingTel mio TV and StarHub's pay TV customers." The price is significantly higher than SingTel's old $34.90-per-month sports bundle, "which came with EPL channels, Champions League and other sports content." The telco will be banking on their new gold packs, which will give subscribers around 80 channels with EPL content for $5 to $10 more than the standalone subscription, "to keep their customers happy." SingTel Digital Life CEO Allen Lew said, "When you go to a fast-food restaurant, if you buy one item like chicken or a burger, it's at one price but if you buy with a drink and fries etc, it's only marginally more" (THE NEW PAPER, 7/29).

The Scottish Professional Football League "announced a new, exclusive three-year broadcast deal with Indian sports channel Sony SIX," according to the Glasgow EVENING TIMES. The move will see Premiership and League One fixtures "screened in the country for the first time across television, mobile and internet platforms." More than 70 SPFL matches will be covered, "including Rangers' fixtures in League One." Sony SIX "already" has the rights to World Cup qualifiers and Euro 2016. The contract will run until the '15/16 campaign. A radio broadcast deal "has also been struck" with Bauer Media that will see its stations -- Clyde, Forth, Northsound, Tay, West and MFR -- "broadcast goal flashes from Premiership and League One matches for the coming season" (EVENING TIMES, 7/30).

CHANGING THE CULTURE: In Edinburgh, Stephen Halliday reported Scottish football "has proved to be something of a graveyard for broadcasters in recent seasons." However, BT Sport is "confident they will become a sustainable and successful presence." Having taken over the ESPN portion of the current Scottish football TV contract, which in conjunction with Sky Sports is due to run until the summer of '17, BT Sport "will herald the launch of the new-look SPFL season with live coverage of Friday night’s Premiership opener between Partick Thistle and Dundee United at Firhill." It will be the first of 40 live games on BT Sport, 30 of them from the top flight and the remaining 10 featuring Rangers. BT Retail CEO Marc Watson said, "The difference between us and previous broadcasters who have covered Scottish football is that we are a huge business. We have a market capitalization of £26 billion. We are not easy to push out of the market. We are the biggest fixed telephone line and broadband company in the country. That is something Setanta and the other broadcasters, such as ITV Sport in the past, could not provide" (SCOTSMAN, 7/30).