Why the Premiership on broadband might not be so bad...

 by Martin Belam, 29 July 2003

I'm a day late looking at this article on European New Media football rights from Monday's Media Guardian supplement, but it made interesting reading. Due to pressure from the EU and from ISPs, the rights for the next Premier League broadband highlights package have been removed from the television rights and offered as a seperate entity. The value of the package is being talked down as despite the growth in broadband in the UK, it is seen as unattractive. I'm not so sure.

The way I see it is this. There are now four available packages of live matches. Each package specifies that the rights holder can only show an individual club a maximum number of times throughout the season. I don't think I am claiming any psychic powers by expecting all of the 4 broadcast packages to fully exploit their rights to show matches by Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. And possibly Chelsea and Newcastle United as well, depending on how they fare this season.

The Media Guardian quotes an anonymous source suggesting that the broadband rights will only be able to show:

"the worst games available"

And there is a longer quote from Alan Flitcroft, a partner for the Media and Entertainment division of Ernst & Young LLP:

"the games that they will be able to show will be the fourth or fifth favourite after the games the broadcasters want"

....well, that seems like a very good USP to me. I can't describe the number of times last season I was infuriated by watching either a pay-per-view or Sky Sports match at home on a Saturday morning, only to sit through it again as the main feature on ITV's The Premiership because it featured either Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool. If you are a fan of the second or third tier of premiership clubs I suspect signing up to the broadband subscription will get you a lot more sightings of your team than via the television.

It put me in mind of Martin's post on The Copydesk about the reporting of a non-competitive match in America - which was somehow the top sports story of the day because of the club it involved, rather than the worth of the sporting "event".

...and I can't even begin to tell you how depressed I am that, according to the BBC staff newspaper Ariel, BBC Three have appointed Tamzin Sylvester as "David Beckham correspondent".

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