Tuesday, March 11, 2008

BPN 1034 Dutch soccer returns home to public broadcast

Dutch public television had something to celebrate last night: it acquired the rights to the premier soccer league. After an outing of three years with the commercial and in the meantime defunct television station Talpa, the premier soccer league has decided for certainty. In the meantime soccer lost 1 million viewers over the past three years and it will get less money for the games than the 35 million euro from the commercial TV station.

The public broadcast station NOS now has the rights to the television summaries on Sunday night and to the radio rights for 20 million euro. The premier league decided to keep the rights of live games to itself. The commercial broadcast companies RTL and SBS had also tendered, but their offers were rejected.

Now everything will return to the old format. On Sunday night 7 pm the tifosi will be in front of the television and watch the summaries without breaks and in the ranking of the competition. Talpa had changed the time, the order of the games and of course interrupted the broadcast with commercials. In the three years of broadcast, soccer lost one million viewers.

As to the rights of the live games, the premier soccer league decided to start exploiting their own channel. There were offers of Liberty Global’s Chello Media (channel Sport1), Tele2, KPN and the consortium Football4all, a consortium of the cable operator Zesko Holding and Canal Digitaal Satellite. Despite the offer of Football4all, the minimum financial warranties of 45 million euro as well as the HD broadcasts and interaction, the offer was rejected. This indicates that that the premier soccer league wants to get more out of their own channel. So far the premier soccer league thinks that it will pick up 70 million euro in the first three years. The aim is to get 600.000 to 700.000 subscribers.

In the months ahead before the start of the premier league in September, a lot of organising will have to be done. A consortium has been set up for this. Endemol has been taken aboard as a strategic partner and the Rabo bank is the financial partner guaranteeing the 70 million euro of the former deal. For the production an open tender will held, which probably will be a fight between Eyeworks and Endemol. Besides the infrastructure for financing and the TV production, the consortium will have to sell the distribution rights of the broadcasts on differnt platforms. So far the IPTV soccer subscription of Tele2 has an audience of 400.000 viewers, among which KPN subscribers; now Tele2 and KPN will be able to negotiate separately. Canal Digitaal satellite channel will bring in viewers. But also Chello’s Sport1 most likely will be an outlet for all the cable operators, unless Zesko starts to open up an outlet of its own.

The premier soccer league has chosen for certainty of the broadcasts of the summaries and the radio rights. It has also decided not to be depended anymore on third parties and has followed the US model of the NBA and other sports organisations by setting up a channel of their own to be distributed by third parties. Given the various existing distribution infrastructures such as IPTV, satellite and cable, it will be able to pick up substantial sums.

As to HD broadcasts of soccer games no statement has been made. The public television companies have decided not to broadcast the coming European Championships in HD. They will experiment with some games but will not broadcast them all in HD. This is a blow for the television shops as they will loose a strong argument for selling HD prepared television sets.

Blog Posting Number: 1034

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