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Volume 6 No. 235


Following "a six-and-a-half-year crusade," the Premier League "has walked away from its long-running legal battle over copyright infringement with the Google-owned video-sharing website YouTube," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. According to documents filed in N.Y., the Premier League, the French Tennis Federation and several music publishers "have agreed to drop the legal case, which was launched in 2007." The move "is likely to lead to clubs being able to use the platform to show delayed highlights of their matches on their own YouTube channels." While the court case was ongoing, "they had been prevented from showing any on-pitch action and limited to behind-the-scenes videos and interviews." Under the terms of the "voluntary dismissal," both sides "will pay their own costs." The Premier League "refused to comment but is likely to refocus its attention on taking legal action against live streaming websites that present an obvious threat to its broadcasting revenues" (GUARDIAN, 11/11). SOCCEREX reported the EPL "has been ramping up its activity in combating content piracy." Indeed, the league last week "hailed a 'significant win' after the Federation Against Copyright Theft secured a successful conviction against a website that had been illegally streaming live games." The "individual responsible received a two-year custodial sentence for fraud, the first time a prison term had been handed down to someone illegally exploiting the Premier League’s rights." The league’s legal department "worked with FACT from January 2012 to secure the prosecution against the site, which had 10,000 plus subscribers" each paying £29.99 ($40) a month "to access an illegal stream of pay-television broadcaster Sky Sports’ coverage of Premier League matches" (SOCCEREX, 11/12).

Growth in TV rights deals in Germany and England "lifted broadcast revenues" of Europe’s top five football leagues 25% to a combined €5B ($6.7B) a season, according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. TV Sports Markets, an information provider for broadcasters and sports organizations, said in its Football Media Money League report that the latest cycle of rights sales through '16 in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain added €1B ($1.3B) a season to the previous three-year period. TV Sports Markets Editor Frank Dunne said, “League football remains the most sought-after media content in the world and all the indications are that broadcaster appetite for the sport at elite level shows no sign of diminishing.” England’s Premier League generates €2.2B ($3B) a year in domestic and int'l TV rights sales, more than double the €975M ($1.4B) earned by second-ranked Italy’s Serie A. While the German Bundesliga’s rights sales of €541M ($726M) per season is the lowest of the five leagues, the 54% rise in its domestic contract is "bettered only by the Premier League’s 63 percent jump." Dunne said, "The domestic rights in German football have historically been low because of the lack of competition in the German pay-TV market. Only in the most recent deal, when Deutsche Telekom looked like being a genuine rival, was Sky Deutschland forced to up its price" (BLOOMBERG, 11/10).

BT CFO Tony Chanmugam told CNBC that despite criticism the company overpaid for the rights to broadcast UEFA Champions League and Europa League games at £900M ($1.4B), "we generally believe that we can monetize this and it makes commercial sense." Chanmugam: "We've got a long track record of having delivered what we said we would deliver, both in terms of EBITA guidance and our cash flow guidance, and what we're saying here is our guidance remains unchanged as a result of doing this. So we don’t think we've overpaid." Chanmugam said the company's "pricing strategy outside sport remains completely unchanged" and with sport pricing the "free offerings continue and what we have said is that we will charge for the Champions League. But the reality on that charging is it could well be that the charge is zero if you take bundle services. So the key point here is that we think we will be able to provide the customer an alternative choice" ("Squawk Box Europe," CNBC, 11/11).

PRICE 'SHOCKED' MARKETPLACE: However, Sportcal CEO Mike Laflin said the "market is pretty shocked at the scale of the fees paid by BT" which is "double what the current deal is worth." Laflin: "It's a lot of money but it secures BT an exclusive package which no one's ever had before. It's going to be very interesting to see how they develop this and of course, this is a challenge to BSkyB." Laflin said "there's a massive hyperinflation" for these league rights but "this is not just about sport." This is about BT "building and establishing their broadband subscribers and using sport as the delivery platform which has worked incredibly well" for BSkyB. Laflin: "BT is playing Sky at their own game" ("Worldwide Exchange," CNBC, 11/11).

Nearly "half of the population of Spain turned on their TVs" at 2pm on Sunday to watch the Valencia Grand Prix, in which Spain's Marc Marquez finished in third place to become MotoGP World Champion, according to Patricia Cazón of AS. The market share of 43.8% is the "Marquez Effect." Marquez has been dominant on both the track and the TV: 4.9 million watched him win his first world championship on Sunday. It was the "most-watched race in MotoGP's history." The growth of audience interest "is notable when comparing '12 and '13." A year ago, when the winner was Spanish driver Jorge Lorenzo, an average of 2.3 million people watched the world championship races. This year, that figure was 2.9 million, "in other words, 543,000 more viewers, a 3.7% increase" (AS, 11/11).

ATP RATINGS: AS reported Novak Djokovic's ATP World Tour Finals win over Rafael Nadal, broadcast on Spain's Teledeporte, attracted an audience of 2.1 million and obtained a market share of 10%. The match was the most-viewed program on Monday and Teledeporte's most-watched tennis match since April '11 (AS, 11/12).