Friday, February 6, 2009

Update on the Sky Sports U.K. Broadcasting Rights

Earlier in the week we covered how Sky Sports had retained its four existing broadcast packages. Well, today Sky has indeed executed the boa constrictor-esque move and snagged the Monday evening games away from Setanta. That leaves Setanta with only one of the six U.K. broadcasting packages, the Saturday evening game. And it leaves ESPN with a big old goose-egg when it comes to U.K. broadcasting through 2013.

Although Setanta is doing great job of spin control, as the BBC points out, Sky is now broadcasting 115 games, and Setanta is relegated to lower tier status.

The total price paid by Sky for the five packages is over £1.7 billion, meaning that the Premier League has another three years of guaranteed big-time television revenue. Although the overall income for all six packages (plus the BBC’s rights to show highlights on the Match of the Day) remains about the same as in 2007-2010, the fact that revenue is flat despite the faltering economy amounts to a huge success. Again, you can expect the EPL transfer market to continue to flourish.

Now, from an American perspective, the interesting thing is that Setanta’s successful bid on the Saturday evening games was actually around 50% lower than what it paid last time around. Keep in mind that the European Union prohibits one broadcaster from showing all games, a rule that was promulgated in response to Sky’s monopoly in the U.K. in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. This likely means that ESPN and Setanta agreed not to table competing bids, meaning that there must be some truth to the thought that the two are in some sort of negotiations.

This also means that FSC is in the driver's seat to continue to broadcast games in the U.S. because they can easily share broadcast teams with Sky. There was some discussion in the comments on the last post about whether networks or the league provide the broadcasters -- at least according to that bastion of knowledge Wikipedia, it's the networks. So, as I suspected, this makes it quite cost-prohibitive for ESPN to broadcast games in the U.S. that are shown by Sky in the U.K. because they would be required to provide redundant broadcast teams. Fox Soccer, on the other hand, would only need to share a satellite feed.

I'm still convinced that the Saturday evening game makes the most sense for ESPN to show in the U.S., because it's a 12:30 p.m. start on the East Coast. And now that's the lone game that Setanta owns the rights to in the U.K. Despite college throwball and basketball, that's a good time to try to create an audience for EPL games in America. So it'll be very interesting to see what happens now with the U.S. broadcasting rights.

ESPN got shut out and Sky essentially ran the table. Will the same thing happen here?

(Props to the entire UF crew for helping with this post!)


Keith said...

Or, ESPN could just bail on England and bid for Bundesliga/La Liga broadcasting rights, which would presumably increase competition among the three for quien es mas macho?

Adam said...

I don't know if La Liga/Bundesliga would appeal to the ESPN masses though. It'd appeal to me and I'm sure the rest of this blog, but I think the casual fan in the states is only really interested in the Premier League for whatever reason. Then again, they could create the market for those leagues and pump up Madrid, Barca, and Bayern.

Also, this means Monday night games could potentially be on FSC now right?

Andrew said...

If you show me quality footie, I will watch, whether it be La Liga or Bundesliga. I think more Americans would enjoy the German league better, as the soccer is closer to what we play here and there are quite a few Americans who ply their trade in Der Vaterland. La Liga has the second most widely-spoken language behind it. But will it actually happen? Or is this another mental masturbation exercise?

Just throwing it out there: I enjoyed Setanta's production in this season's EPL games.

One more thing: how is FSC NOT showing the North London Derby this Sunday?

jjf3 said...

If I'm ESPN, and I REALLY want to get into the whole footy thing (which I think is true), and I lose out on US rights (not certain at this point), I'm going after La Liga, and I am promoting the shit out of the whole Barca/Real rivalry. That's something Americans can understand, and, oh yeah, the true best player in the world plays for one, and the current "best" player in the world can't stop batting his eyelashes at the other...

IF ESPN truly wants in on football, and they happen to get shut out of the EPL, Spain is where they can put on their "training wheels", so to speak, while killing GolTV and making their "rookie mistakes".