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Volume 10 No. 22


ESPN said on Thursday that it will end the int'l versions of its X Games extreme sports competitions "because it could not make money on the events," according to Liana Baker of REUTERS. The sports cable network owned by Walt Disney Co. will be cutting an unspecified number of jobs related to the Int'l X Games, "which took place in cities including Barcelona, Munich, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil and Tignes, France." The Int'l X Games "had been broadcast on ESPN's flagship U.S. channel and its sister network, ESPN 2." The U.S. X Games, "which take place in Austin, Texas, in the summer and Aspen, Colorado, in winter, will continue." An ESPN spokesperson said, "We are proud to have run world-class competitions for both the athletes and spectators; however, the overall economics of these events do not provide a sustainable future path." Regarding the related job cuts, ESPN said, "Changes of this nature require difficult decisions, including the elimination of some roles. Under the two-event model ESPN will require a smaller workforce to stage and support the events" (REUTERS, 10/3).

Australian broadcaster ABC "will lose its exclusive rights to Test cricket in Australia, with radio stations 2UE and 3AW to cover the game alongside the national broadcaster starting with this summer's Ashes series," according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. In "an historic move by Cricket Australia aimed at broadening the audience of cricket's traditional format, its broadcast-rights team is deep in negotiations with Fairfax Radio." In another development that "leaves the ABC frozen out of covering domestic cricket, Triple M has picked up the rights to the Twenty20 Big Bash League." CA's "foray into commercial radio has been a well-guarded secret for weeks and has been made amid administrators' urgency to maintain the relevancy of Test cricket and take it to new markets as well as a drive to further boost revenue." By adding commercial AM and FM partners for Tests and the BBL, respectively, cricket "joins the country's other leading codes," the Australian Football League, which has games in Melbourne called by the ABC, 3AW, SEN and Triple M, and the National Rugby League, "whose radio rights in Sydney are held by the ABC, 2GB and Triple M" (SMH, 10/4).

German public broadcaster ZDF "has received high ratings for its broadcast of the Champions League game between Bayern Munich and Man City," according to Sidney Schering of QUOTENMETER. A total of 8.73 million viewers tuned in to Wednesday's game, which started at 8:45pm German time. The number translated into a market share of 29.8%. In the target demographic 14-49, Bayern's 3-1 victory was watched by 2.47 million viewers and had a 22.8% share. Ahead of the game, ZDF attracted 6.01 million viewers to its pre-game coverage. The number equaled a market share of 23.6%. The pre-game show was watched by 1.75 million and obtained an 18.5% share in the target demographic (QUOTENMETER, 10/3).

ManU "has announced a three-year agreement" with Fijian Holdings Ltd.'s Fiji TV to bring MUTV to the South Pacific for the first time, according to Mark Baber of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. The agreement "represents an important step for Fiji TV in its strategic expansion into the Pacific, but has some dangers attached as the channel is operating under six month licences after coming under fire from the government for airing interviews with two former prime ministers who criticised the constitutional review process." The agreement "allows Fiji TV to broadcast MUTV to 21 different territories across the South Pacific" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/3).

Multimedia group Mediapro President Jaume Roures on Thursday announced a "two-year contract extension with F1," according to Abraham Romero of AS. Now, "the only question is which Mediapro channel will broadcast F1 throughout Spain." Roures said, "Formula 1 makes sense with or without Fernando Alonso. Logically, with Alonso, the audience increases. We say that F1 by itself is already a great show. It also has a different 'prime time.' You reach massive audiences at uncommon hours and this has a lot of value for the channels" (AS, 10/3). MARCA reported "this news had been anticipated for months." The current contract "was set to expire at the end of the year." The "agreement's financial terms have not been released." In '13, Mediapro paid €45M ($61.4M) for the rights to broadcast F1. Mediapro "tried to negotiate a lower price because of Spain's economic crisis in terms of advertising investment in media" (MARCA, 10/3).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India "awarded the title sponsorship for all domestic and international tournaments in India" for the '13-14 season to Star Private Ltd. and ESPN Software at the base price of Rs 2 crore ($324,000) per fixture, almost Rs 1.5 crore ($243,000) less than the previous deal with Airtel, according to the PTI. The new deal was inked at the BCCI's marketing committee meeting on Thursday and Board Secretary Sanjay Patel said that they were not disappointed with the reduced price considering the "turmoil in the financial market." Patel said, "The market situation is such that at one point of time we thought it will be very difficult to get the sponsorship considering the turmoil in the financial market. But we are very happy [with the price]" (PTI, 10/3). In New Delhi, Urvi Malvania wrote "the deal makes sense for the broadcasting company as it already has the broadcasting rights for all international cricket matches which will be played in India" until '19, for which it has paid Rs 38 crore ($6.2M) per match. The "lacklustre performance of the bidding process is a clear reflection of the slowdown in the economy." Apart from Star, "the only other company which showed interest was mobile phone manufacturers Micromax but they withdrew from participating in the final bid." As a result, "Star paid the base price" which was fixed at Rs 2 crore (Indian BUSINESS STANDARD, 10/3). NDTV's Soumitra Bose wrote by offering a short-term contract, the BCCI "has played it smart given the current economic climate." The Board "should be happy to rope in a sponsor" that is paying Rs 2 crore per int'l match. For STAR, it is "a double whammy." Keen to reach the masses, "the broadcast giants want to 'sweep'" sporting properties that have a massive Indian audience. It is "a win-win situation for both parties" as the BCCI and STAR strengthen their relationship at a time when market returns can be unpredictable (NDTV, 10/3).