BBC out of Live Football Game
There has been a spate of national press interviews in recent days with BBC executives outlining a new vision for the corporation. It coincides with the the new director-general, George Entwisle, coming into his post.
A new streamlined, cheaper, BBC is the main focus. Which means no new football rights packages are on the horizon for the broadcaster.
The BBC’s director of sport Barbara Slater has admitted as much in the Times.
The beeb has the rights to Wimbledon and Six Nations rugby until 2017. They also have a highlights deal with the Premier League, on Match of the Day, until the end of the 2015-16 season.
But they admit that for the foreseeable future, live football is simply out of their price range. It will be sad news for those craving a return of the national pastime to the national broadcaster.
BT recently secured a package of 38 Premier League matches from next season for £246 million. That’s £6.5 million a game. At £6.5 million a game you can see why the BBC balks at entering the market for football rights.
Which of course has an effect elsewhere. The FA would love the BBC to compete for England home internationals, the rights to which they lost in 2008. The FA has a two year £90 million deal with ITV. But that’s already a discount on the previous package. The FA’s leverage would only increase if ITV and BBC were duking it out for rights to the games.
The beeb has just extended its rights to the Olympics through to 2020. It has the World Athletics Championships from 2015. And of course has the rights to broadcast blue chip events like the World Cup and the European Championship.
In a sign if things to come, BBC sport have recently lost two high profile presenters. Jake Humphrey has left the corporation for BT. He was synonymous with their F1 coverage. He will likely front their live football. And Clare Balding, after the BBC lost the rights to the Grand National and Royal Ascot, has moved to Channel 4 to present their horse racing coverage.
This comes in a week when the BBC is likely to be under scrutiny for its limited Ryder Cup coverage. A nightly highlights programme, broadcast at midnight, likely will not satisfy golf fans who don’t have sky.
But this is the world we live in. In an era of digital video recorders the rights to sporting events, one of the few products viewers still insist on watching live and therefore with commercial breaks, mean the BBC has been priced out of the live sport game.
But it’s not all bad news. Such a scenario will force the corporation to focus on minority sport, and women’s sport, in an effort to fill the void in their sports coverage. And create a whole generation of stars in sports that have been unfairly marginalised. The Olympics have shown the BBC is still an unmatched star maker.
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