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Volume 6 No. 234


Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch "has sought to allay investors' nervousness about the battle with BT, saying that the pay TV provider could still grow by raising prices for consumers in spite of losing crucial football rights," according to Henry Mance of the FINANCIAL TIMES. In his first public comments since the company lost Champions League rights to its rival's £897M ($1.4B) bid, Darroch said that "it could sign a wholesale deal with BT to ensure its customers had access to the full range of live sports." Responding to investor fears about whether Sky can compensate for the loss of some its best sporting rights, Darroch "highlighted investments in Sky Atlantic and movies." Darroch: "The journey at Sky since day one has been to broaden out and do new things. While the sports is very, very important to Sky, it's just one of the things that we do" (FT, 11/20). BLOOMBERG's Schweizer & Thomson wrote Sky "is open to a wholesale deal with BT." Darroch said, "It's a two-way thing and if we can get there with BT we're open to that; we're keen to do that but we'll have to see. Sky Sports is in great shape; we're clear on our priorities." Sky has aired top U.K. football games since the Premier League's inception in '92. Darroch said that the Champions League accounts for less than 3% of viewing on Sky Sports, "and he emphasized the channels' airing of cricket, tennis and golf tournaments" as well as F1 and other football matches (BLOOMBERG, 11/20).

Football Federation Australia "has come up with a new way of displaying their players names on official team sheets for their international home games," according to Tom Parsons of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Instead of the traditional name and number combination that has served clubs and countries well over the years, the FFA "introduced their squad by putting their Twitter handles on the team sheet for their 1-0 win over Costa Rica at Sydney's Allianz Stadium this week." Leaving room for supporters "to tick the boxes for the players who were in the starting XI and were on the bench, this new format certainly brings team sheets up-to-date and raises the profile of players' social media handles." Australian midfielder Tim Cahill "has the highest following in the Australian squad with 565,228 followers." Cahill "gained 422 followers in the 24 hours after the team sheet was released" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 11/20).

Media groups TF1 and Discovery "have announced the start of talks to evaluate whether the U.S. group will use its call option on Eurosport prior to the agreed-upon date," according to Pascale Paoli-Lebailly of RAPID TV NEWS. Under the agreement signed in December, Discovery "has a call option to raise its stakes in pay-TV channel Eurosport from its current 20% to 51%" on or after Dec. 21, 2014. TF1 "can also exercise its sale option over the remaining 49%, allowing Discovery to take over 100% of Eurosport." The TF1 Group has indicated, however, that "it will retain its 80% in Eurosport France until at least" Dec. 31, 2014 (RAPID TV NEWS, 11/20).

German public broadcaster ZDF "has drastically increased its sports budget for '14, as it will be a year full of sporting events," according to Sidney Schering of QUOTENMETER. The expenditures on sports rights and broadcasts by the public broadcasters "are regularly a big discussion point of TV observers." While some industry experts say that sports investments "are getting out of control," others say that "there's still not enough sports on the public broadcasters." At least for the coming year, ZDF "seems to agree with the latter." The broadcaster will invest €330M ($447M) in sports programming in '14. The 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the FIFA World Cup and the European Athletics Championships alone will swallow up €164M ($222M) of ZDF's budget. The remaining budget will be used for the channel's usual sports coverage, which has a price tag of €147M ($199M) this year (QUOTENMETER, 11/20).

German public broadcaster ARD "recorded top ratings for its broadcast of the int'l friendly between Germany and England on Tuesday night," according to Sidney Schering of QUOTENMETER. A total of 12.17 million viewers tuned in starting at 9pm local time to watch the game. The number translated into a market share of 38.8%. In the target demographic 14-49, Germany's 1-0 victory attracted 4.49 million viewers and had a 36.2% share. Prior to the game, ARD's "Sportschau" show was watched by 7.84 million viewers, including 2.85 million viewers in the target demographic. The numbers translated into market shares of 27.1% and 25.7%, respectively. After the game, ARD "aired highlights of all World Cup qualification matches held on Tuesday." The game summaries attracted 7.58 million viewers and had a 39.8% market share including a 34.2% share in the target demographic (QUOTENMETER, 11/20).

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced a new four-year broadcast rights deal with sports media company Perform to deliver live and on-demand coverage of England's home int'l matches to fans in North America and the Caribbean (ECB). ... ABC radio "is expected to call the first Test despite late on Wednesday still not having signed a new broadcasting agreement with Cricket Australia." The two parties "have been split on the finer details of the deal" (THE AGE, 11/21).