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Volume 6 No. 211


The Australian cricket team's "bumper summer" and the Big Bash League's switch to free-to-air TV "has put a major dent in the television ratings for the Australian Open," according to Michael Chammas of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The Australian Open's "highest audience average across the five major cities" in '14 was 1.06 million for Roger Federer's fourth-round clash with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. However, the most watched Australian Open session "still ranked lower than all of the top-five sessions of this month's one-day international cricket series between Australia and England." Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic's first-round exits from the Australian Open "haven't helped Channel Seven's ratings, and they have had to rely on little-known teenagers Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios, as well as Casey Dellacqua, to boost ratings." However, Channel Seven "is not fazed by the figures and insists the ratings are in line with previous Australian Opens." A Channel Seven spokesperson said, "Our tennis coverage is in line with some of our best years. We are broadcasting over 77 more hours and using more channels to do it. We are rapt with the performance, as are our sponsors and viewers, with sponsors already signed up for next year as a result" (SMH, 1/21).

A-LEAGUE: In Sydney, Pierik & Lynch reported while A-League TV ratings "have risen from last season, a leading media strategist claims there are 'worrying dynamics' in recent weeks, with the numbers of viewers slipping." According to independent media communication agency Fusion Strategy, the A-League "averaged a modest 61,000 viewers last weekend, the second lowest this season and behind only week 10 of competition." Friday night's feature clash, albeit between struggling clubs Melbourne Heart and Newcastle Jets, "attracted only a combined 110,000 viewers on host broadcasters Fox Sports and SBS2, the lowest this season since SBS2 began broadcasting." Concerns about the A-League "have emerged as the Ten Network enjoys average ratings of about 800,000" for its A$100M ($88M) investment in cricket's Twenty20 Big Bash League, while Seven's tennis coverage "continues to also pull strong figures." But Fox Sports said that since Dec. 20 when the BBL began, its A-League ratings "are down only one per cent on last season, and have held up well" (SMH, 1/22).

Discovery Communications and TF1 Group announced Discovery would acquire a controlling interest in Eurosport Int'l through an extension of their larger strategic partnership first announced in Dec. '12. The deal to increase Discovery's interest from 20-51% accelerates the original agreement by nearly one year. Discovery Communications President & CEO David Zaslav said, "Today's announcement underscores Discovery's strategy to support already strong organic growth with targeted acquisitions and partnerships." The flagship Eurosport network reaches 133 million homes across 54 countries in 20 languages. Eurosport's brands and platforms also include: Eurosport 2 reaching 69 million households across 51 countries; Eurosport HD, the high-definition simulcast of Eurosport, available in 32 million homes in 48 countries; Eurosport Asia-Pacific reaching 16 countries; and Eurosportnews, a 24-hour news channel and online hub, providing an up-to-the-minute sports news feed available in 48 countries. The agreement was based on an average enterprise valuation for the Eurosport Group of €902M ($1.2B), partly corresponding to the initial valuation and partly to a higher valuation linked to the control of the company (Discovery Communications).

ELTA TV on Tuesday announced that "it has obtained the exclusive rights to broadcast all of the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches" across Taiwan this summer, while Chunghwa Telecom is to air the games online, according to Jason Pan of the TAIPEI TIMES. An ELTA TV exec said that "the network inked a deal to secure all the media rights to air the tournament taking place in Brazil in Taiwan" with FIFA, and that it will collaborate with Chunghwa Telecom to make matches available on mobile devices and computers. Although the pricing of the deal was not disclosed, "the telecom expects the games to raise revenue" from its MOD service to NT$2.6B ($86M) this year from NT$2.2B last year. Ratings figures show that 10.06 million people in Taiwan watched the World Cup games beamed from South Africa in '10 and officials "expect that number to rise dramatically this year due to increased interest in the sport in Taiwan and the proliferation of Internet-capable cellphones and tablets" (TAIPEI TIMES, 1/22).

Spanish newspaper Sport has created a new English-language version of its daily -- Sport Qatar -- that will be distributed in Qatar starting on Tuesday, according to SPORT. The new edition will be similar to the Spanish version, but with a more global focus, with the intention of meeting the needs of a population of more than 2 million people. Sport Qatar will be the first sports daily in the country and will be distributed by the Gulf Times as an additional section of the Gulf Times. The two publications have been working on the joint venture for months (SPORT, 1/21).

Sports broadcaster Star India on Tuesday announced an eight-year broadcast deal with the Int'l Hockey Federation (FIH), "during which the world sport body will look to host a major event in India each year," according to the PTI. Star India, which runs the country's leading sports network, STAR Sports, "will broadcast key FIH events both in India and throughout the world" from '15 through '22. STAR Sports "has acquired global media rights for all territories, excluding Argentina." Through its network of int'l affiliates and other national broadcasters, content "will be distributed to over 200 countries," reaching billions of sports fans taking field hockey’s global viewing audience "to unprecedented levels" (PTI, 1/21). IANS reported the announcement comes after STAR Sports disclosed a Rs.100 crore ($16M) investment in Hockey India League (IANS, 1/21).