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Volume 7 No. 106


Sky and BT have given the Premier League its "first ever pay cut" after agreeing to pay £4.46B ($6.19B) for rights to the "majority of live top-flight matches," according to Christopher Williams of the London TELEGRAPH. Five out of seven packages of matches have been awarded in "football's triennial big money auction," covering three seasons from '19. The price means the the total cost of domestic Premier League rights is in line to "fall for the first time since the competition began more than quarter of a century ago." Sky will remain the "dominant" Premier League broadcaster after it secured four of the five packages, including Monday, Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday matches. The pay-TV company will pay £9.3M ($12.9M) per match, a 16% discount on its current bill of more than £11M ($15.3M). BT secured rights to Saturday lunchtime kickoffs at a cost of £9.2M ($12.8M) each. It represents an increase on the company's current bill of £7.6M ($10.6M) per match and "means a slightly weaker schedule" as BT Sport currently shows Saturday matches in the "more popular" 5:30pm slot. However, unless it buys one of the two unsold packages, BT's overall Premier League cost will fall from £320M ($444.4M) to £295M ($409.7M) per season. The deflation is a "blow" to the Premier League, which hoped U.S. tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook "would arrive to ramp up competition and push prices higher again." Its total income from domestic rights increased 70% last time as "BT and Sky's broadband and pay-TV rivalry drove spiralling bids" (TELEGRAPH, 2/13).

REUTERS' Sandle & Smout reported in total, the £4.46B the two companies agreed to pay for 160 games a season for three years is below the record £5.14B ($7.14B) raised in '15, "albeit with two small packages of 40 games remaining to be sold." The Premier League, however, said that it was "extremely pleased" that BT and Sky continued to view its matches as an "important part of their offering." EPL Exec Chair Richard Scudamore said, "To have achieved this investment with two packages of live rights remaining to sell is an outcome that is testament to the excellent football competition delivered by the clubs." Sky UK CEO Stephen van Rooyen said that the broadcaster's "disciplined approach to the auction had paid off, leaving it with the flexibility to invest in more entertainment and other content."

Van Rooyen: "Not only do we remain the home of Premier League football but also the home of top quality drama, entertainment, comedy and other sports" (REUTERS, 2/13).

ESPN will carry hundreds of hours of ATP World Tour 500 coverage.

ESPN, ATP and ATP Media reached a multi-year agreement for broadcast rights throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean to all 13 ATP World Tour 500 events. ESPN's rights include full exclusivity for pay-TV and co-exclusive digital rights alongside the ATP's online streaming service in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean. Each year, ESPN will present hundreds of hours of ATP World Tour 500 event coverage. The new agreement begins with the first ATP World Tour 500 event of the '18 season: the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, taking place through Sunday. ESPN Play, ESPN's live streaming and VOD platform in Latin America and the Caribbean, will serve as the main destination for all ATP World Tour 500 events, with the final of each being aired across ESPN's linear networks and on ESPN Play (ESPN). 

With Ukrainian journalists having "already been refused accreditation" by their national FA and having to approach FIFA directly, Ukraine’s public broadcaster has "decided not to show any of the games" of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, according to Andrew Warshaw of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Since the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March '14 and the subsequent support of Ukrainian separatists by Moscow, diplomatic relations between the two countries have been at an "all-time low." Ukraine failed to qualify for the tournament but its fans "will now have to find other channels to watch matches." National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine CEO Zurab Alasania said, “We refuse to broadcast it.” Ukrainian Youth & Sports Minister Ihor Zhdanov also "urged Ukrainian fans not to visit Russia for the tournament" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 2/13).

Comcast is reportedly "considering a new offer" for Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox assets, despite an agreement in December to sell them to Walt Disney for $52.4B. Sources said that Comcast’s deliberations indicate that it "believes it still has a chance to clinch a deal with Fox," even though its previous bid last year of more than $60B was rejected "over concerns that regulators worried about media consolidation could thwart it" (REUTERS, 2/11).

The FA of Finland (SPL) signed a pilot agreement with Pitchero, which will supply a grassroots digital platform. The U.K.’s leading provider of technology to amateur sports clubs will provide a "first-of-its-kind platform" to the SPL (SOCCEREX, 2/13).

Boxing promoter Frank Warren appointed IMG as his exclusive global distribution partner for future boxing events. The deal will see the sports media firm exclusively represent Warren's broadcast rights in all territories except the U.K. and North America (IMG).