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Volume 6 No. 215


BT "has reached a deal to make its new sports offering available to customers of Virgin Media," which will recoup part of its estimated £1B ($1.56B) investment in the channels, according to Henry Mance of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The three-year agreement, which comes days before the start of the Premier League football season, "brings BT Sport to about 2m households who have Virgin’s XL package, tripling its reach to 3m." BT could receive £75M ($117M) a year under the deal, analysts at Barclays estimated, although "it is likely to lure fewer broadband subscribers to switch to its services from Virgin as a result." Enders Analysis analyst Claire Enders said, "This looks like a fairly defensive move from both parties." A deal between BT and Virgin "had long been rumoured, with key issues including the wholesale price of the channels and their inclusion in customer bundles" (FT, 8/15). In London, Mark Sweney reported BT execs "will be breathing a sigh of relief, as it needs to offer the channels to as many pay-TV homes as possible" to recoup the £1B-plus it has spent acquiring sports rights. BT TV CEO Marc Watson said, "BT has made a large investment in BT Sport and this is an important commercial agreement for us" (GUARDIAN, 8/15).

The EPL's battle against copyright-infringing websites "went badly wrong this week" when it mistakenly caused U.K. Internet providers "to block hundreds of unrelated websites, including those of Blackburn Rovers and the Radio Times," according to Robert Cookson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The Premier League last month won a court order to prevent British Internet users from accessing First Row Sports, "a Swedish website offering video streams of football games around the world." But in its attempt to block the pirate site, the Premier League mistakenly asked the U.K.'s six biggest Internet service providers -- including BT, Virgin Media and Sky -- to block an Internet protocol address "that is used by hundreds of other companies." Radio Times Editor Ben Preston said, "It's outrageous that our website has been suddenly switched off and our users wrongly informed that it's to protect against copyright infringement." Spokespeople for BT, Sky and Virgin said that "they removed the block after the mistake was brought to their attention." All the affected sites "were customers of a company called DNS Made Easy." The person said that the problem arose because the Premier League "had asked the ISPs to block an IP address used by DNS Made Easy in the mistaken belief that it was associated only with First Row Sports" (FT, 8/15).

The row over English football broadcasts continues to rumble, "as pay-TV rivals StarHub and SingTel hurled accusations at each other," according to Irene Tham of the STRAITS TIMES. The EPL season begins on Saturday, "but StarHub hinted that some of its subscribers may not be able to tune in because SingTel has been late in processing orders." SingTel then insisted that "it has kept to its deadline." Since SingTel lost its appeal on having to share its exclusive EPL broadcasting rights with StarHub under the Media Development Authority's cross-carriage rule last month, the two telecoms "have been engaged in a fight over subscribers" (STRAITS TIMES, 8/15). In Taipei, Jason Pan wrote football fans in Taiwan "are set to be disappointed with no live broadcasts of games to be shown on local sports channels." For the first time in many years, EPL games "will not be shown on Fox Sports channels." BeIN Sport, with its partner MP & Silva, "has secured the media distribution rights for Premier League games for the next three seasons in the Philippines and Taiwan." In Taiwan, "the company aims to launch three high-definition TV channels this month," including a 24-hour channel dedicated to EPL games and news (TAIPEI TIMES, 8/15).

ManU on Thursday "announced a deal to screen its MUTV channel in New Zealand," according to Adam Jupp of the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. The club has reached the agreement with Sky New Zealand, "which has 120 channels in the country, covering sport and entertainment." The three-year deal will see MUTV made available to Sky subscribers, "with the club claiming 1.5 million viewers tune into United matches" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 8/15). The NEW ZEALAND HERALD reported "Sky viewers can now watch delayed coverage" of ManU, Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham games. Sky copped considerable criticism when it lost the rights to screen live EPL games, "but have hit back by securing the rights to show delayed coverage of four of the biggest teams in the competition" (NZ HERALD, 8/15).

More than 9 million football fans "tuned in to ITV's coverage of the first clash between England and Scotland in 14 years," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. ITV's coverage "attracted an average audience of 6.8 million and a 31.4% share" between 7:30-10:25pm. The "15-minute peak audience was 9 million." ITV said that "for the period of the actual match, which kicked-off at 8pm, the average audience was 8.2 million and a 36% share of the TV audience." On the basis of "five-minute peak audience measurement, the match hit 9.2 million" (GUARDIAN, 8/15).

GERMANY: QUOTENMETER's Manuel Nunez Sanchez reported "an average of more than 9 million viewers watched the int'l friendly between Germany and Paraguay on late Wednesday evening on ZDF." The pregame coverage, which started at 8:25pm, attracted 5.77 million viewers. The number translated into a market share of 25.7%. In the target demographic 14-49, ZDF obtained a 21.5% share. The actual game, which started at 8:45pm, attracted 9.27 million viewers. The number equaled a 34.3% market share. In the target demographic, the 3-3 draw was watched by 2.9 million viewers and had a 28.9% share. Following the game, ZDF showed highlights of other int'l friendlies starting at 11:05pm. The highlights attracted 4.65 million viewers and had a 27.5% market share. In the target demographic, the show obtained a 21.9% share (QUOTENMETER, 8/15).

After Ireland national TV broadcaster RTÉ’s decision to discontinue its EPL highlights show, Setanta Sports announced that Setanta Ireland "will air two shows," one on Saturday evenings and one on Sunday nights "each weekend for the duration of the new season," according to the IRISH TIMES. Starting this week, host Conor Morris will be joined by Matt Holland and former Arsenal left-back Nigel Winterburn. The Sunday show "will be hosted by" Newstalk’s Ger Gilroy for the first two weeks before presenter Paul Dempsey "takes the reins thereafter." Marketing Operations Dir Brian Quinn said, "From a production perspective it is a big challenge for this first weekend as we have only just concluded the deal. Thankfully we have a lot of resources in place for our live Premier League shows that we can use on the new Premier League Central show" (IRISH TIMES, 8/14).