Britain's Labour Party has accused Premier League clubs of "not contributing enough to grassroots football and suggested that they may be compelled to pay a levy on revenue from television rights," according to Pickard & Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman "is also considering a levy on sports betting to support community sport and help raise awareness of problem gambling." Harman said said she would “get tough with the Premier League and betting companies” while persuading more youngsters to practice sport in schools. In a '99 agreement, the Premier League agreed to contribute 5% of domestic TV revenues toward grassroots funding. That deal expired and has not been renewed. Labour is concerned that many clubs "have failed to hit that funding target, meaning that sums going to community and local level sport have fallen short." Labour is hoping a new code will be voluntary, but is not against "the idea of making the levy compulsory" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/24).
Investors' usual concerns about pay-TV provider Sky -- subscriber growth, revenue per user, even the cost of Premier League football -- "have faded in recent weeks, as anticipation grows about the company's grand European plan," according to Henry Mance of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Sky "is near an agreement to buy majority stakes in Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox." The move "would create one of Europe's largest pay-TV players," with 19 million subscribers in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria. Combining the operations "could generate synergies" -- £100M ($170M) by '17, or less than 1% of the total cost base. For BSkyB investors, Sky Europe "would also give them exposure to the German market, where pay-TV penetration is lower and there is greater growth potential." Research group IDATE states that "only one in five German households pays for premium TV channels," compared with one in two in the U.K. (FT, 7/23).
Sky Sports News will relaunch on channel 401 as Sky Sports News HQ beginning on Aug. 12, offering more news across its TV, digital and mobile services. Launched for the new football season, Sky Sports News HQ will unveil a new schedule, upgraded studio and improved digital services including redesigned apps and integrated social media coverage. Sky Sports News HQ will provide viewers with a sports news service plus a showcase of other content on the Sky Sports channels. Other Sky Sports channels will move one slot up the Sky digital EPG. The channel will offer new programs and features plus a greater emphasis on reporting stories under investigation. Almost double the size of the previous Sky Sports News studio, the new space means viewers will receive more breaking news delivered in new ways, including via an 18 square-meter video wall or investigation desk as just two of 11 different presenting positions. Sky Sports apps and its website have been redesigned with additional personalization, a SSN HQ "hub" offering catch-up video clips and additional content alongside the live channel, breaking news notifications and trending articles. A social media desk will immerse viewers in the newsroom environment as Sky Sports News HQ reporters investigate what is being said on social media channels. Users will be able to have their say and join the debate via apps, skysports.com and social media (Sky Sports).
More than 87 million Chinese football fans "watched Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time on TV," according to XINHUA. Market information and insight provider CTR said that the figure "includes the live broadcast, replays and same-day viewings through set-top boxes." The final "also attracted 9.02 million live Internet viewers on China Central TV Station website (www.cntv.cn)." The "average viewing figure of the live broadcast of 64 tournament matches on TV was 21.57 million." The average online live audience was 3.76 million, "which means 14.8 percent of viewers watched games through Internet" (XINHUA, 7/23).