The BBC "could lose the rights to broadcast sport's 'crown jewels' including the FA Cup, World Cup and Wimbledon," according to Matt Chorley of the London DAILY MAIL. At present, around £150M ($242M) of the license fee "is used to buy up some of the world's biggest sporting events so they can be shown free-to-air." But now ministers "have been urged to consider handing that money to rival broadcasters." It is suggested that while the so-called "crown jewels" events in the sporting calendar "should be on free-to-view channels, the BBC should not automatically receive the funding to air them." Tory party Chair Grant Shapps warned at the weekend that the TV license fee "could be cut unless the BBC tackles a 'culture' of secrecy, waste and bias." But the aggressive approach "could go further, with ministers looking at breaking the link between the BBC and licence fee itself." Every year the Corporation spends £150M "buying the rights to major sporting events, including Wimbledon, the FA Cup, Six Nations rugby, Formula 1, which is now shared with Sky, and Premier League highlights for Match of the Day." Rival broadcasters believe "there should be a level playing field, with the BBC unable to give away for free events that they have to pay for" (DAILY MAIL, 10/28).
Sunday night TV "is set for a football revolution" with the Australian Football League "to trial up to three prime-time games on Channel Seven for the first time in that timeslot in 2014," according to Caroline Wilson of THE AGE. The move means that "next year's home-and-away season will feature 7:40pm games on five of the seven week nights from Thursday night through until Monday night with the Sunday night fixture seen by the league as a long-term prospect -- preferable and more practical than Monday night." Sunday night football "has been regarded as an attractive proposition by the game's governing body given the relative dearth of quality free-to-air programming on a night once regarded as a weekly ratings high point." AFL clubs "were warned in a recent meeting of the 18 chief executives to expect some experimental fixturing in 2014 with the introduction of two byes, the early start to the season and the need to combat rival football codes" (THE AGE, 10/29).
NBA and Sony SIX announced an expansion of their existing multi-year TV partnership, which will see more NBA games and programming broadcast in India than ever before. Sony SIX will televise up to 14 live NBA games each week during the '13-14 season with all games airing as part of "NBA Mornings on SIX," which will feature live back-to-back NBA games every morning of the week. In total, fans will have access to more than 300 live regular season games, as well as the NBA All-Star Game, Playoffs, and Finals. Sony SIX will promote the daily six-hour programming block across its network of channels and media platforms. A new basketball lifestyle program showcasing the sport off the court and featuring localized Indian content will also be launched and will air weekly in primetime. New apps, games and contests will also help reach fans via digital and social media throughout the upcoming season (NBA).
Olympic Broadcasting Services CEO Yiannis Exarchos said that the host broadcaster’s assessment of new technologies is based on the premise of "what makes sense for the rights holder and the end user." Exarchos told SBD Global at the recent Sportel Monaco, "The desire for better quality, more resolution, is, of course, a normal, never-ending desire that we as the host broadcaster absolutely share. We follow, of course, the developments on 4K, and we also follow the developments on 8K and Super Hi-Vision, which is a technology developed by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK." During the London Games, OBS and NHK teamed up to provide coverage of the Opening Ceremony and some other events in Super Hi-Vision, and they will do it again in Sochi. Despite those, and other tests, it has been nothing more than an experimental effort, Exarchos said. He added, "It would be too soon, it would be premature."
TIME TO CHANGE?: In its 12 years of existence, OBS has set the level for production standards very high, and therefore it cannot easily switch or adapt a new technology such as 4K -- not to mention the costs for new equipment. Exarchos: "4K is a technology that is being developed. However, a lot of components that we would need to bring a production to the level that we usually do are not there yet. First of all, there’s not even enough gear around to cover the Olympic Games. Second, there are a number of specialty cameras, RF applications and transmissions, which are not yet developed, but I’m sure they will be developed. I don’t believe that we can at this point speak really about a technology that will substitute." While talks about new developments continue, we should not forget that even in Europe, HD is not a fully adopted standard. Exarchos: "It’s not like 100 percent of the people in Europe, which is perceived as one of the most developed broadcast areas of the world, have access to 100 percent of high-definition programming, nowhere near. We wish it were like that."
GO SMALL OR GO HOME: Another obstacle that prevents OBS from fully committing to a new standard is the fact that people tend to watch more and more sporting events on smaller screens. Exarchos said, "The clear tendency that we see is that people feel comfortable following sporting events on much smaller screens such as tablets and mobiles. It’s not like they are looking for larger and larger screens." However, in the case of 4K you would need a screen of at least 65 inches to really tell the difference from HD, Exarchos added.
German free-to-air TV channel RTL "recorded satisfying ratings with its broadcast of Sunday's Indian F1 Grand Prix," according to Alexander Krei of DWDL. An average of 5.6 million viewers tuned in to watch Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel win his fourth consecutive world championship title. The number translated into a market share of 37.9%. In the target demographic 14-49, RTL obtained a 33.6% market share. In addition, German pay-TV channel Sky attracted an average of 410,000 viewers to its broadcast of the race. In the target demographic, the network received a 3.9% market share (DWDL, 10/28).
BUNDESLIGA: DWDL's Krei also reported Sky "set a new record with its broadcast of Saturday's Bundesliga games." A total of 1.52 million viewers tuned in to watch Sky's simulcast or one of its five individual game feeds on Saturday afternoon. The number equaled a market share of 12.5%. In the target demographic, the pay-TV operator recorded an "outstanding market share" of 16.5%. A "big draw was the derby between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke." The game, which started at 3:30pm, attracted 420,000 viewers and had a 5% share in the target demographic. In addition, German public broadcaster ARD set a new record with Bundesliga highlight show "Sportschau," which was watched by 5.76 million viewers (DWDL, 10/28).
SKI WORLD CUP: DWDL's Krei reported ARD "recorded low ratings with its broadcast of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup season opening men's giant slalom race from Sölden, Austria on Sunday morning." A total of 790,000 viewers tuned in to watch the first run. The number translated into a market share of 7.4%. The second run, which aired around noon, was watched by 1.05 million viewers and had a 7% share. In the target demographic, the win of U.S. skier Ted Ligety obtained a 4.2% share (DWDL, 10/28).
The Simpsons TV show will "celebrate its 25th year in 2014, and the show's creators have decided to 'wink' at the next World Cup in Brazil." The creators of the series are working on a "special World Cup episode" that is scheduled to air in the U.S. in March. The episode will be called, "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee" and feature Homer as a World Cup referee (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 10/28). ... Indian cricket player Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test match series "could fetch big ad revenues for the broadcaster, STAR Sports India." According to early estimates, the channel "stands to make four to five times the ad revenue compared with a normal Test series." Media planners peg the ad rates for the last match to be at Rs 3-3.5 lakh ($4,880-5,700). Usually, a 10-second slot in a Test match played at home goes for anything between Rs 40,000 and 60,000 ($650-980) ( (Indian BUSINESS STANDARD, 10/28).