BT Leave European Football Fans Out in the Cold
A shock announcement from BT has signalled their intent to break into the football market, as they picked up the Champions League and Europa League television rights from 2015 – 2018 for £900 million.
November 15th, 2013
Going on subscriptions alone, BT would have to gain 25 million subscribers per year to fund the purchase. Of course this won’t happen, and substantial sponsorship of BT’s coverage will bring in much needed revenue. BT’s tactic of throwing money at the rights package until they outbid Sky and ITV got even more ridiculous when BT Boss Gavin Patterson claimed he had more money at his disposal if he had needed it. With Sky flat out stating the deal was far in excess of what they were willing to pay, it was obvious Patterson didn’t need the extra cash.
The problem is this was about much more than football for BT. Their agenda was not one of bringing high quality football to their viewers, it was one of protecting their broadband services which are increasingly under pressure from an increase in competition. Therefore with so much on the line, they had the scope to offer a silly amount of money because they know it’s likely to gain them new broadband customers, rather than TV customers.
Unfortunately much of the focus around the rights deal has been around these multinational companies who earn billions of pounds a year, and not about your average football fan. Whilst I welcome the fact somebody is finally challenging Sky, who basically did the same thing with the Premier League, I do object to there being a monopoly on the Champions Leagues rights, and minimal free-to-air broadcasting.
Since the Champions League’s inception in 1992, viewers have been able to catch at least two games featuring English teams each game week for free, with the other two going to Sky. Under the new deal, thanks to UEFA’s greed and BT’s deep pockets, only one game from each of the English teams and both finals will be free-to-air. In a time when people are having to cut back just to heat their homes, why should they have to pay at least an extra £12 to watch premier European football?
This doesn’t affect the people who already have too much money. UEFA have their £900 mil in their back pockets, and the teams will get a large increase in the money rewarded to them for qualifying for the tournament. BBC Sport even reported that Man Utd will use their extra cash to fund Wayne Rooney’s new contract, because £250,000 a week clearly isn’t enough for the England talisman. It only affects the average, hardworking football fan who enjoys sitting down on a Tuesday and watching some Champions League football, but now can’t because he has to pay.
Unless Huddersfield some miraculously reach the lofty heights of the Champions League, they won’t be getting a penny off me. I’ll watch the free highlights show on ITV and save my £12 a month.