Sky shares "jumped earlier this week after UBS predicted" that 21st Century Fox, its 39% shareholder, "would look at merging its German and Italian operations with the UK listing," according to Bryce Elder of the FINANCIAL TIMES. To Credit Suisse, "that idea seemed far fetched" -- at least until after an EPL rights auction "due mid-2015 at the latest." Sky "needs to neuter BT Group’s competitive threat by bidding for an extra rights package," which could more than double the annual bill. The importance of the Premier League to Sky’s business means “it makes little sense to expect any M&A ahead of the auction.” Credit Suisse said, “Sky could critically damage BT’s ability to monetize its existing deals (including the expensive UEFA Champions League contract) and thereby eventually force it out of the wholesale content market altogether. We think the rational strategy for Sky is to acquire six packs, take the short-term hit to earnings, but then reap the longer term benefits from reduced competitive intensity in UK triple play" (FT, 1/16).
Fox Int'l Channels Asia has "renewed its exclusive rights to the Australian Open," signing a multi-year contract that will see the pay-TV network "broadcasting the tennis match in 20 Asian territories," according to Joel Marino of WORLD SCREEN. FIC will have the broadcast rights for the first Grand Slam tournament in Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam, among others. Coverage is set to include "more than 100 hours of live tennis action, as well as bonus programming across multiple platforms and devices." This year's match will "also be covered in Mandarin and Cantonese, while next year’s game is slated to expand multi-language coverage with the addition of Thai, Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia" (WORLD SCREEN, 1/16).
Dog Digital has been appointed to provide digital and technical consultancy services to Infront Sports & Media following a competitive pitch process. Infront will be working with Dog Digital from its U.K. and Singapore offices on a range of projects, including redeveloping the Infrontsports.com website, developing digital platforms and branding for Infront-owned sports events in China and Europe, and on enhancing Infront's global digital communications strategy through digital PR, SEO and social media (Dog Digital). ... Nigeria's leading sports properties management and production company, HotSports Nigeria Ltd., "has secured rights as the official media (non-match) partner of the Nigeria Football Federation." With its new status, HotSports "is at liberty to be at every of the Nigeria national football teams event to film and observe activities within the camp of the various teams as they prepare for competitions all over the world without interfering with the job of the technical staff of NFF and the players" (ALL AFRICA, 1/16). ... Samsung has introduced its Wireless Olympic Works app to Android devices ahead of the Sochi Games. The app allows fans to view content in real time. It will include event schedules, reports, results, medal rankings, records and more (MOBILE ENTERTAINMENT, 1/16).