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Television and Broadcasting

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Liverpool help Sky boost viewing figures

Sky can point to a sharp rise in football viewing this season with average audiences up 7 per cent year on year despite the challenge from BT.   This is thanks in part to the success of Liverpool, a favourite among neutrals, who have also played some attractive football.   A down to the wire title race also helped.   A rise in overall customers, up 74,000 from January to March, beat analysts' expectations.

Legal challenge to 3pm blackout

The televising of games at 3pm on Saturdays has been banned on the grounds that it would hit lower league attendances.   However, a report pubished by the EU has questioned whether the restriction can be legally upheld, given that it is also imposed on other European broadcasters.

A report from the Asser International Sports Law Centre in the Netherlands says that the blackout 'sits at odds with the European Commission's aspirations to promote cross-border access to audiovisual content.'

Liverpool top Premiership pay out

Liverpool may not have won the league title, but they received the biggest pay out from the Premier League because of the number of their games that were screened on television. They got £97.5m compared with £96.5m for title winners Manchester City.

Bottom club Cardiff City received £62m which is 64 per cent of what Liverpool received. It is also £1.2m more than Manchester United received as title winners last year, reflecting the value of the new television contracts.

FA broadcasting income takes hit

The collapse of the Irish broadcaster Setanta had long-run implications for the income of the Football Association.   It then had to negotiate a deal with ITV and ESPN who were able to beat it down on price. As a consequence, there was a £34m decline in broadcasting income last season and operating profit fell from £50m to £28m.

Possible tv sports rights shake up

Ofcom is to review whether BSkyB should have to offer its key sports channels to its rivals.  Sky currently has to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 at a set price to rivals including Virgin Media and BT Vision because it is deemed to hold a dominant position in the market for premium sports rights.  A new review has now begun into whether such remedies are still appropriate, given changes in the market, such as BT's investment in sports coverage.

Fears for Sky in football rights war

BSkyB shares slipped nearly 3 per cent yesterday after HSBC and Oriel both advised selling them.  There are concerns about how Sky might come out of a football rights war with BT.

HSBC told its clients that BT was 'likely to win' the next Premier League rughts auction.   Either the rights would be split as they are now, but at a much higher price, or BT would take a greater share of the packages.  

Premier League win case against pub

A statement issued by the Premier League says, 'We welcome confirmation from the High Court that The Rhyddings Hotel in Swansea was infringing our copyright with its broadcasts of Premier League football. We are pleased that the Court awarded an injunction against the infringing premises, together with an order for damages and payment of our costs.' These costs could amount to £125,000 with the case reaching the High Court.

BTs' strategy is working

BT's strategy of investing heavily in the Premier League seems to be working. This means that the cost of television rights is likely to be forced up beyond the cost of inflation in the next auction due before the summer of 2015with a price war in prospect. The Premiership bubble has certainly not burst, despite forecasts to that effect over the years.

What future for BSkyB?

The path that Sky takes in the future as it faces up to the competitive challenge from BT will influence how much the Premier League obtains for its television rights and hence the income of top clubs.

A wholesale deal with BT - with each company making its channels available through the other's packages - could remove the risk of spiralling sports rights packages. This would tend to hold back the growth of Premiership income.

Cup not about the money

The financial rewards of the FA Cup with Budweiser are limited, certainly at this stage of the competition.

When Rochdale played Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday they had a police bill of around £30,000. With 45 per cent of the gate receipts, they will make around £35,000.

If the game had been televised, they would have got an extra £144,000. However, the televised games tend to be those involving the clubs with the biggest number of fans. If they had won, they would have received £90,000.