BT Sport CEO Marc Watson has warned that his company "is ready to invest more 'eye-watering sums' and has its eye on the next round of Premier League TV rights," according to the PA. Watson said the £897M ($1.4B) BT spent on '15-18 Champions League rights was "worth every penny," despite Sky's claim that BT "had paid over the odds." Watson insisted that "there is room for BT and Sky in the marketplace," and said that his company is "willing to spend even more on sports rights to cement its position." Speaking at the UnitedCity sports summit in Manchester, England, Watson said, "We have been able to afford some pretty eye-watering sums because it drives a position in a big and lucrative market, and we are in a position to invest more." He added, "I know that some have questioned how much we have paid for football rights, especially in the last couple of weeks, but the truth is that money makes a difference in a highly competitive market and we only pay what we think the rights are genuinely worth to us, and we hope that's enough to win it" (PA, 11/18).
WORLD CUP, EPL ON DECK: In London, Ben Rumsby reported BT is "flirting with the idea" of bidding for the rights to the World Cup after Watson said he would "welcome" talks with FIFA on the matter. Watson also warned BT’s rivals that the company "had plenty of cash in reserve to continue bidding for premium sports content," including during the next Premier League auction in '15. Asked if taking Premier League rights from Sky would signal "the end" for BT’s bitterest rival, Watson said, "I’m not sure it’s the end. We’d have a hell of a proposition at that point" (TELEGRAPH, 11/19).
EPL Liverpool announced plans to launch its first official Chinese language website. The club has partnered with China's leading sports portal, Hupu.com, to launch the site. Liverpool was the first European football club to enter the online Chinese market in July '11 with the launch of an official presence on the SinaWeibo platform. An independent survey conducted for the Premier League estimates Liverpool has 170 million potential fans in China. The club now boasts more followers on social media from China than any other country. Hupu.com is China's top football portal, with 30 million unique visitors per month. Its Liverpool forum receives 200,000 views per day (Liverpool).
Sky will make highlights of the Ashes series available, for the first time, to millions of homes through its free-to-air channel Pick beginning Thursday. During the Ashes series, a one-hour highlights program will be aired at 10pm every day following each Test, ODI and T20 match. Sky's Ashes coverage will include commentary from David Gower, Michael Atherton, Ian Botham, Nasser Hussain, Andrew Strauss, David Lloyd and Shane Warne. Pick is a free-to-air channel available on Sky channel 152 (Sky Sports).
Saturday's Bundesliga top game between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund "will not air on free-to-air TV in Austria because the broadcast will also be available in some areas in Germany," according to Manuel Weis of QUOTENMETER. Last week, German pay-TV operator Sky Deutschland reached an agreement with Austrian free-TV channel ATV to show Saturday's top game "including pre- and postgame coverage live on the Austrian channel." However, Sky Austria Managing Dir Kai Mitterlechner said on Tuesday that "the accessibility of ATV in south Germany is higher than previously expected." The problem is that Sky "has no free-TV rights for the German market." Therefore, an impact on the business "could not be ruled out during this free-TV broadcast." ATV Managing Dir Martin Gastinger said, "It is annoying for the viewers and especially for ATV that Sky withdraws from a cooperation that was set and made public" (QUOTENMETER, 11/19).