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Volume 6 No. 193


Sky struck a £600M ($796.9M) broadcasting deal with the English Football League, according to Murad Ahmed of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The agreement will also allow clubs to livestream matches "directly to fans from their own websites." Under the five-year deal that begins in '19, Sky will screen "up to 150 matches each season" from the EFL's professional divisions below the Premier League. Games from the playoffs, EFL Cup and EFL Trophy are also included. The EFL said that the deal represented a year-on-year increase of 36% on its current broadcasting deal with Sky. The agreement also allows EFL clubs to stream matches live "when they are not broadcast by Sky and are played outside the blocked window timed just before 3pm on Saturday when games traditionally kick off." EFL CEO Shaun Harvey said, "The new opportunity for EFL cubs to livestream their matches through a direct to consumer service in the U.K. is a revolutionary and exciting step forward for football broadcasting rights in the U.K. and we will monitor its progress closely to determine how this model can be considered for future EFL rights cycles" (FT, 9/12). BLOOMBERG's David Hellier reported League Championship side Derby County has been "vocal in pushing for a more lucrative deal" with Sky, arguing that the rights are worth closer to £300M ($398.5M) a year. Derby wanted the rights to be packaged "to attract a higher valuation." The club argued that EFL matches are "watched on average by one-third of the audience that watch the Premier League, but attract 20 times less value" from the existing TV deal (BLOOMBERG, 9/12). The BBC reported the existing EFL TV deal runs through the end of the '18-19 campaign and is worth £88.3M ($117.28M) per season. The BBC's Simon Stone commented the EFL remains "confident midweek attendances will hold up despite the wider availability of fixtures following Tuesday's announcement." In the winter months particularly, "lots of long distance games are played in midweek." Away fans willing to undertake those trips are "unlikely to be put off by an ability to watch them on a live stream." In addition, as Sky has no access to broadcast European games until at least '21, the midweek slots offer it "the chance to screen live football" (BBC, 9/12).

NOT FOLLOWING SUIT: In London, Ben Rumsby reported the Premier League is "unlikely to follow" the EFL's lead by making entire midweek rounds of matches available live in the U.K. Premier League clubs meet next month to discuss their own U.K. TV contract for the '19-22 seasons, under which "at least 190 games -- potentially even more than 200 -- will be made available live." But there are "unlikely to be enough matches sold to allow for entire midweek rounds to be shown," with many of the extra 22-plus games expected to be divided up among new Saturday night or Sunday slots. The Premier League has also committed to selling its rights to more than one broadcaster, "something that would complicate any attempt to allow all 20 clubs to be shown in one or more round of games" (TELEGRAPH, 9/12).

The Murdoch family "faces a six-month investigation" of its record as a broadcaster and "commitment to editorial standards" following a government decision that will mean a "further delay" in the £11.7B ($15.5B) bid to take full control of Sky, according to Christopher Williams of the London TELEGRAPH. U.K. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said that "in light of new representations" on 21st Century Fox's compliance record and its handling of sexual harassment allegations at Fox News, she was "minded to trigger a double investigation" by the Competition & Markets Authority. A broadcasting standards investigation "will run alongside a previously planned probe of the impact of the deal on the public interest in media plurality, amid fears it would grant the Murdochs too much sway over news." Bradley: "I have the power to make a reference [to the CMA] if I believe there is a risk -- which is not purely fanciful -- that the merger might operate against the specified public interests" (TELEGRAPH, 9/12). In London, Graham Ruddick reported Bradley’s announcement "contradicts recommendations" from media regulator Ofcom. It said that there were "grounds for an investigation on media plurality," but the evidence available "did not justify a broadcasting standards investigation." Shares in Sky fell 3% after the announcement "as concerns increased among investors about delays to the takeover and whether it will go ahead" (GUARDIAN, 9/12). The BBC reported U.K. Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said that he welcomed Bradley's decision and praised her as a "good 'un." He said, "I also welcome the Secretary of State's decision, or I should say, the fact that she says she is 'minded to' make that decision, to refer the bid on broadcasting standards grounds as well as on media plurality grounds." Avaaz, a U.S. group that has been campaigning against the proposed Fox-Sky merger, welcomed Bradley's comments. Avaaz Senior Campaigner Alaphia Zoyab said, "It's a great day for democracy, and a bad day for Rupert Murdoch" (BBC, 9/12).

Australia's Women's National Basketball League is back on TV "after a deal was struck with Fox Sports." Basketball Australia announced the deal to end the two-year hiatus as the WNBL and NBL season launched in Melbourne (THE AGE, 9/11).

21st Century Fox has "thrown its weight behind a legal challenge to CBS’ proposed deal for Australian free-TV network Ten." The U.S. media firms "faced off" in a Sydney courtroom Tuesday, with Fox "joining an attempt by Lachlan Murdoch and others to block the CBS takeover of the Australian broadcaster." CBS and Fox are the "two major creditors of financially troubled Ten," which went into receivership earlier this year. Documents released this week show that the CBS deal is valued at a minimum A$201.1M ($161.2M) (VARIETY, 9/12).

Slomo.TV's technology was used to televise the President’s Ice Hockey Cup in Kazakhstan. Sports TV production company Media Sport was retained to "provide live coverage to the Sport KZ television channel" (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 9/12).