Posts Tagged ‘premier league’
Premier League football is a big deal. Unfortunately the scrabble to get to show the matches on UK television is also a Big Deal, with the latest rights sold to both BSkyB and BT Sport for a record £5.5bn over three years. Now, a challenge by Virgin Media on consumer grounds could see a shake up of broadcast footie, with even the sacred Saturday afternoon spot filled with the glorious game.
Live football has been banned from live TV since the 1950s to protect attendance at lower league games- after all, who’d want to watch jumpers-for-goalposts on a cold, wet Saturday afternoon if there was something better to do instead?
However, Virgin has challenged Ofcom to investigate the fact that a lower proportion of matches (41%) are shown on television in England than in other major European markets and that as a result consumers paid higher prices.
But don’t be fooled. This is not Virgin trying to make sour grapes into a fine wine at all. It’s not that they just want a piece of the football screening action without shelling out several billion at all. It’s a consumer issue. Obvs.
Virgin is arguing that by effectively limiting the supply of matches, the Premier League has inflated the price that broadcasters have to pay, which means that cost is then passed on to consumers. The Premier League disagree, claiming that its (only recently implemented) approach of dividing the live matches on offer into packages and ensuring that they are sold to at least two broadcasters is consistent with competition law.
Ofcom has now launched an official investigation into the points raised by Virgin, with particular focus on whether there are grounds for an objection under the Competition Act. Ofcom said it would consult supporters’ groups as well as consumers, media companies and the football authorities over the case. However, the Premier League are likely to argue that they simply can’t offer more matches if the Saturday afternoon blackout is maintained, as there wouldn’t be the time or resources to meet the demand.
Tom Mockridge, the Virgin Media chief executive complained: “The fact remains that fans in the UK pay the highest prices in Europe to watch the least amount of football on TV. Now is the right time to look again at the way live rights are sold to make football even more accessible.”
“We look forward to working constructively with the Premier League, the wider industry and Ofcom to ensure a better deal for football fans.”
He neglects to mention that he was formerly a senior sort at News International and sat on Sky’s board, but while this is really more of a fight over football matches by the broadcasters, rather than a genuine consumer issue as Virgin would have us believe, if it results in more matches for consumers/fans at a lower cost, who are we to complain? We’ll all just stand round in a circle chanting “fight, fight…”
Unfortunately, however, any intervention by Ofcom is unlikely to have any effect on the tender documents for its next round of broadcasting contracts, covering the three seasons from 2016-17, which are due to go out early next year. Still. 2020 might be a good year for watching football…
The Premier League and Sky have been dealt a heavy blow over the airing of coverage of their soccerball games in public places like pubs. Mostly pubs in fact. A pub landlady from Portsmouth has won the latest battle in her war against the broadcaster and the massive money-generating league over using foreign TV decoders on British soil. Helpfully, it’ll almost certainly upset Rupert Murdoch as well.
After being fined for using a Greek decoder to show live Premier League matches in her pub, Karen Murphy was fined £8,000, but took her case to the European Court of Justice. They’ve backed her and said that national legislation that blocks the use of foreign decoders could not “be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums”
The ruling will now go back to the High Court, and could well lead to the Premier League and Sky having to rework how they sell their rights. Basically, in management-speak, the ball is up in the air and no one knows what colour or shape it’ll be when it lands again.
It also means that the plethora of pubs that brazenly show live matches at 3pm on a Saturday (which is supposed to be strictly prohibited) will continue to do so until the Premier League get their act together.
One interesting loophole is that the ECJ has stated that while live matches are not protected by copyright, any surrounding media, such as any opening video sequence, the hideous Premier League ‘anthem’, pre-recorded films showing highlights of recent Premier League matches and various graphics, were “works” protected by copyright. To use any of these parts of a broadcast, a pub would need the permission of the Premier League.
Like Shaun Wright-Phillips, this one is going to run and run…
Football-viewing as we know it could be about to change forever, following some big words from the advocate general of the European Court of Justice, Julianne Kokott – and it isn’t good news for Sky, ESPN or the Premier League.
More and more pubs are slyly showing Saturday afternoon Premier League football using European decoder cards and Ms. Kokott says that restricting this goes against the ethos of the European Union.
She went on to say:
“The marketing of broadcasting rights on the basis of territorial exclusivity is tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market. Consequently, the specific subject-matter of the rights in the transmission of football matches does not justify a partitioning of the internal market, and thus also does not justify the resulting restriction of the freedom to provide services.”
Which basically means that decoder cards shouldn’t be restricted to use within just one country of the EU, and publicans like Karen Murphy of Portsmouth, who was fined for broadcasting matches using a cheaper decoder card from Greece are no longer criminalised. It could also mean that being able to watch live Premier League football in pubs at 3pm on a Saturday would become the norm
A full ruling will follow later in the year and the EU could then decree that the practice where rights-owners sell sport, movies, or any other content, on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis within the EU is no longer possible.
The Premier League and Sky are expected to go batshit mental about all of this in due course.
Football clubs are shamelessly greedy bastards and for a time, fans just accepted it and played along. However, it seems that breaking point has been reached with nearly half of football fans spending less on merchandise this season.
According to Virgin Money’s latest Football Fans’ Index, a survey of Premier League fans revealed that 42% of supporters aren’t prepared to spend money on replica shirts, programmes and general club tat.
It doesn’t help when your club release a new batch of kits every season, most of which aren’t nearly as nice as the retro ones you can buy elsewhere.
The clubs facing the biggest drop in spending are Birmingham, Bolton and Blackburn. Nearly half of the fans of champions Chelsea will be cutting the amount they spend on the club.
With your average replica shirt costing over £40 (another tenner if you’re getting a name on the back), it’s hardly surprising that fans are refusing to cough-up coins.
Roughly 34% of Tottenham fans won’t buy a new kit this season despite the club launching five new shirts. That means a good percentage of people are still willing to bow to their outrageously cheeky club.
Clubs have made the match day experience a bit cheaper. It’s 3.5% lower for a day out than it was a year ago. However, it’s still nearly £100 for a pint of lager, a match ticket, travel and a replica shirt combined. Of course, you’re not expected to buy a new shirt every time you go to a game. Still, it ain’t cheap.
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said to The Guardian: “The clubs agreed to a two-year minimum’life’ for all shirts and to ensure every shirt offered for sale had a ticket clearly indicating the date up to which the club would wear that shirt. Far too many clubs are driving a coach and horses through that restriction – which they voluntarily agreed to in writing in the final Football Task Force report. Such breaches are bad faith on their part.”
ESPN is going to give football fans a mobile phone service that is actually really good. It’s one that will bring us video footage of every Premier League goal, “usually within minutes” of the ball bulging the onion bag.
ESPN Goals will offer the bog-standard news and live scores, which you can get for free. If you want the videos, then you’ll have to cough up £3.99 a month or £29.99 for the season.
The best news is that it’s going to be available on both iPhone and Android and you buy it through ESPN’s mobile site. Sky are probably wishing they’d thought of this no doubt.
The Guardian report that ESPN has the rights to 23 Premier League matches this season, but UK mobile highlights rights for all the league’s games for the next three years.
Goal highlights will be available before we Match of the Day Football First transmits.
“Mobile media has seen dramatic growth in recent years and has proven to be a significant and important part of the way people connect to the sport they love,” said Tom Gleeson, the vice-president of digital media for ESPN International. “ESPN Goals will serve as a fantastic complement to our television business in the UK.”
This certainly looks like an app that is worth a punt.
Not content with blasting 3D Premier League football into our faces in selected pubs earlier in the year, Sky are going the whole hog and launching a specialist 3D channel later in the year, October 1st to be precise.
Details of programming schedules are somewhere between sketchy and non-existent at the moment, but the aforementioned Premier League, the Ryder Cup, Monsters vs Aliens and Harry Potter And The Something Or Other are among the three-dimensional visual delights lined up. No doubt subscribers will be forced to peel at least another tenner from their thinning cash-bundles in order to see this miraculous content.
Elsewhere, in Sky-related news for people who have a brain, the Murdochian broadcasting overlords have snaffled up the complete catalogue of renowned US cable broadcaster HBO.
The deal will bring new HBO shows to Sky as well as classics such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Six Feet Under. We wouldn’t be surprised to see that lot eventually snuck away behind some kind of paywall as well. Harrumph.
For a while, it has been accepted that Premier League teams change at least one kit per season. Normally, at least one of the kits stays around for two seasons. Of course, it is a bit of a rip-off, but you don’t expect anything else from a football club, right?
Well, this year, we’ll see a spate of new kits, despite the fact that new shirts were only released last season. There’ll be 18 new home kits this season from teams who released new shirts this time last year.
The worst offenders are Tottenham who have launched three new kits every year for six seasons in a row. At £45-a-pop, it isn’t cheap for fans or people with demanding children.
The only teams that didn’t release new kits last term are Arsenal and Liverpool who both have new products out this time around.
It isn’t illegal for clubs to release a new strip every season, but it does fly in the face of the recommendations made by the Football Task Force which looked to give football fans a fairer deal.
The BBC report that Premier League rules state that teams must “allow for market research to be undertaken with regard to the frequency of strip changes and to its design”, whilst also “identifying the intervals at which strip changes are intended to take place and the date of the next intended change” and each club’s customer charter must be available to the public, outlining its policy with regard to ticketing and merchandise.
Of course, no club has liaised with fans and, during a rather sticky financial climate, it seems rather insensitive to offer new strips to the fans so frequently. It is little wonder that more and more fans are looking toward places like Toffs to buy retro kits.
Former sports minister Kate Hoey spat: “The Premier League clubs are a law unto themselves and if people keep buying them then they will keep selling them.”
No such problem for Man United fans in Malaysia though, where the new kit has been banned because of the devil on the club crest. Sky News report that the badge has been deemed “dangerous and un-Islamic”. One religious cleric has stated that: “This is very dangerous. As a Muslim we should not worship the symbols of other religions or the devils. It will erode our belief in Islam. There is no reason why we as Muslims should wear such jerseys, either for sports or fashion reasons.”
LG are crowing over the fact that they’ve just flogged 15,000 3D TV sets to Sky for the broadcaster to sprinkle into pubs across the land… and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
The broadcaster we all hate to love tried out the 3D experience in January for the Manchester United v Arsenal league match, which turned out to be a huge success, prompting the speedy return of 3D.
Sky are said to be planning a rapid rollout of the 3D footy this spring, and as there’s only about ten weekends of Premier League matches remaining, we reckon we’re looking at days rather than weeks before we’re all down the juicer turning the place into a scene akin to a pissed-up Roy Orbison convention.
Tough times for Britain’s eyes and livers, but we’ll cope…
As expected, ESPN have announced the launch of a new channel, set up primarily to show their booty of 46 live Premier League games. The rights matches were originally held by the ill-fated Setanta Sports until they went colossally tits-up last month.
The channel, which will have the snappy title of ESPN, will launch on August 3rd, just under two weeks before the start of the Premier League season. The broadcaster have agreed a carriage deal with Sky and Rupert Murdoch’s killer broadcasting lizard will also sell ads for the new channel. Further announcements about other UK pay-TV platforms are expected in the near future.
Current Sky Sports subscribers will have to pay £9 per month to add ESPN to their existing package while non-subscribers will have to fork out £12 per month. Which doesn’t seem all that different to Setanta’s pricing structure, which has already been proven to be a complete and utter disaster.
ESPN also owns rights to show American football, ice hockey, baseball and college football and basketball throughout Europe and they will be expected to pad out their schedules with some of these lesser sports.
How about it then football fans? Will you stump up almost another tenner a month to watch the matches that Sky didn’t want in the first place? Will you go down the pub whenever your team is on and say ‘sod it’ to the rest of ESPN’s offering? Or will you take advantage of the many illicit online streams of live action that are out there in World Wide Web World? Will ESPN’s UK offering be joining Setanta in the Deathwatch dumper this time next year?
The end is almost certainly nigh for Setanta after they failed to make a payment that was due to the Premier League at the end of today. The company have now lost the rights to 46 Premier League games for the coming season, and the rights will now be auctioned, with bids due in by Monday.
The Premier League said it had “been working with Setanta for some time to help them continue as the broadcaster of 46 UK live matches for the 2009/10 season” adding, “It is with considerable regret that we announce that Setanta has been unable to meet their obligations. As such the existing licence agreement between us has been terminated with immediate effect.”
As Sky are not permitted to bid for the full package, it is expected that ESPN will snap up some of the matches.
“We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of a dear and loyal friend. Actually ,scratch that. We’re here to have a bit of a knees up and jump all over the grave of Setanta, winner of Bitterwallet’s Worst Company UK award. Sorry if you lost your job and all that. Here, have a can of Skol and a mushroom vol-au-vent.”
And so the scene is set for us to wave farewell to Setanta. According to a BBC report, the company is losing £100 million a year and will slide into administration “within days” unless somebody fancies squaring the £30 million it owes the Premier League. That’s on top of the £3 million payment it missed to the Scottish Premier League last week. Crivens.
According to one analyst, Setanta has only attracted 60 per cent of the subscribers it needed to continue as a viable business, and an investor with pockets as deep as Sartre is now needed to stump up the cash. If Setanta does fold, it’d mean the rights for future football seasons would be up for grabs – Sky seems the obvious choice although yankee doodles ESPN are also thought to be in the running.
But why spend £100 million on showing the games when you could buy a team? Newcastle United is up for sale for a paltry £100 million. However, NUFC owner Mike Ashley has taken the unusual and, some would say, idiotic step of publically inviting interested parties to email the club. It’s given Sunderland fans the sort of opportunity they’d have to sexually satisfy a genie to enjoy again.
Expect Newcastle United’s mail server to collapse under a heap of offers to buy the club for a quid, a turd in a bag, a pint of warm piss etc, and for the message to disappear from the official site shortly. You’ve got to hand it to Ashley – it’d take a staggering effort to make a once-proud institution like NUFC look like an even bigger prize dick than it already did. Yet somehow, he’s managed it again. Cheers.
EDIT: As of Tuesday afternoon, Setanta has disabled its online and telephone subscription services, meaning that anyone foolhardy enough to become a new customer with them can go and swivel. End game.
The end seems nigh for Setanta after the ailing sports broadcaster defaulted on a £3 million payment that was due to the Scottish Premier League at the beginning of this month. Both the SPL and Setanta themselves are refusing to comment on the situation but the pay-per-view broadcaster could well be about to buckle under the weight of their financial obligations, after a search for fresh investment failed to garner significant results.
Setanta, who lest we forget are the current holders of Bitterwallet’s Worst Company In Britain award, got into trouble earlier in the year when they failed to retain their 46-game Premier League package beyond the end of next season. From 2010-11, they’ll have just 23 top-flight matches, and are customers really going to continue to shell out the current £12.99 monthly subscription for that?
The company are believed to be spilling subscribers left right and centre as the footy-less close season arrives and the recession makes their customers think hard about whether they’re getting value for money from Setanta. Their notoriously crappy customer service certainly hasn’t done them any favours over the years, and they’re currently offering potential cancellers a three month deal at just £3.33 a month.
Fresh investment into a company that is looking more and more toxic by the day seems unlikely, and it could be a slow and painful death for Setanta over the coming months.
It all started going a little Pete Tong for Setanta in February, when the Premier League gave half of Setanta’s matches to Sky. The loss of Monday night games sparked concerns amongst investors, and now The Guardian is reporting that Setanta could collapse in the next month, if it can’t renegotiate expensive contracts and bring in new funding.
Some sporting bodies such as the US PGA Tour, are said to be willing to re-consider the terms of their contracts. However the likes of the Premier League and the FA are insisting their deals are honoured in full, and those are the contracts that matter – not only because the numbers involved are huge (their new three year deal with the FA is costing Setanta £150 million) but because they’re key to maintaining subscription numbers.
According to The Guardian, Setanta’s last £10m fee to the FA was late, the next £10m instalment is due next month, with a payment of around £35m due to the Premier League immediately following the end of the season.
For those of you who ideally like to see Setanta buried in a landslide of heavy rock and faeces, you may soon get your wish.
Setanta, who lest we forget, Bitterwallet readers voted as the Worst Company In The UK for 2008, are in a bit of a pickle – and that’s putting it mildly.
Last week their live Premier League offering from 2010-13 was slashed in half when Sky regained the Monday night package of matches and now the Irish pay-per-view irritants appear to be scrabbling around to repair the damage.
They’re said to be trying to regain the Monday night games, either by moaning to the Premier League that the whole thing is unfair, or by sidling up to Sky and trying to sub-licence the package back from them.
As a result of these latest developments, analysts predict that thousands of subscribers will be dropping Setanta quicker than a hot brick. Additionally, the company have appointed the Close Brothers merchant bank to help them raise £159 million. Doesn’t sound like the recipe for a sound sporting future – it could all look like this in a year or so.