Jul 112013

BSkyB has muscled out challenger BT Sports to secure key matches at the start of the Premier League season, including Manchester United’s clashes with other top teams, José Mourinho’s first fixture back at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini’s first game in charge of Manchester City.

The first round of televised Premier League fixtures published on Thursday reveal that Sky Sports has focused its efforts on keeping out BT from Manchester United’s top matches, which attract the biggest football audiences, including the Manchester derby.

BT’s top matches in the opening weeks of the 2013/14 season are the London derby clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and Everton versus Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.

Sky have exercised their right to first refusal in the first rounds of the season. They also say they will screen every meeting between last year’s top four.

Although BT have the rights for 18 first choice matches, Sky have been ruthless in their ability to tell them when these will be.

However, while Sky has plucked the pick of the top Premier League games until December, BT could have a strong end to the season, as it has only exercised five of its 18 first picks, leaving with it with 13 first picks at the business end of the season. Sky has exercised eight of its 20 picks, leaving it with 12.

But the contrast in the early games is marked, with BT’s first game of the season Liverpool v Stoke, while Sky is airing David Moye’s much-anticpiated first game in charge of Manchester United in a free-to-air live broadcast, in an effort to get one over on BT, which has spent £738m over three years securing the rights to 38 live matches a season. Sky paid £2.3bn for 116 matches per season.

Sky is also showing every fixture between last season’s top four clubs and will have shown a live match featuring every Premier League team at least once by 6 October.

But BT does have some prize games in the first half of the season, including Tottenham v Manchester United.

Live football on satellite TV :

Live football in August 2013 on satellite TV :

Jul 022013

Further to yesterdays post ( ) about the expected announcement of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) English Premier League broadcast rights, the Pan-Arabia Enquirer has reported that : “Alex Ferguson joins Al Jazeera as host of English Premier League coverage”

If this is true, this is a coup for Aljazeera Sports, to have one of the top football managers in the world as their pundit.

But why has no official announcement been made by Aljazeera that they have the rights to the English Premier League?

According to the article, the deal, reportedly worth over 12 million dollars, will see Ferguson front the broadcaster’s English-language EPL shows for the 2013/14 season, with an option to extend until 2016.

It isn’t yet known whether Ferguson will take up residence in Qatar or simply fly over for each TV show, but with the Middle East home to a significant number of Manchester United fans he is expected to add a significant boost to Al Jazeera Sports’ ratings.

Without any ‘official’ announcement from Aljazeera or MP and Silva about the MENA rights, this article has to be viewed with a degree of scepticism.

If Al Jazeera have won the English Premier League broadcast rights, then the English, Spanish and Italian leagues plus the Champions League and FA Cup are all available with one Al Jazeera subscription.

Jul 012013

Further to our previous post ( there has still been no announcement for which broadcast company has the English Premier League broadcast rights for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

However, the long-awaited decision as to the Middle East television rights for the English Premier League (EPL) is expected to be announced this week – and not a moment too soon for football fans anxious to know how they can watch the August kick-off.

Several industry sources suggest that Al Jazeera Sport is a strong contender in bidding for the three-year EPL rights. Some sources even suggest the deal was done earlier in the year, although nothing has been confirmed.

Abu Dhabi Media (ADM), the previous rights holder, has held talks with MP & Silva, the rights company, about extending its rights deal , but it is believed that its bid is less than half the $360 million ADM paid for the rights to the 2010-2013 seasons.

Rival Al Jazeera Sport, an arm of the Qatar-based broadcaster, is tipped by some as favourite to win the regional rights to the tournament from 2013 to 2016, with one of the top media executives in the region saying categorically that “Al Jazeera has won it”.

One stumbling block to an EPL deal for Al Jazeera is the security of the network’s TV platform, according to some in the industry.

Al Jazeera’s existing pay-TV platform is “not compatible” with the anti-piracy measures required by EPL broadcasts, said one industry source. ADM and rival broadcaster OSN are believed to be the only regional players with the required levels of security on their TV platforms.

Others say that Abu Dhabi’s ownership of the EPL team Manchester City should not be overlooked in ADM’s determination to renew its rights deal.

Buying the Mena rights to the EPL may bring recognition as part of Al Jazeera’s global strategy, but whether it will also bring profits is another matter.

Rights to the tournament have soared in cost over the last decade, far outpacing potential revenues. ADM’s outlay was three times the reported $120 million paid by rival OSN, which held the EPL rights for the 2007-2010 seasons. Yet Abu Dhabi Media is said to have made a vast loss on the EPL over the last three seasons, with subscription revenues amounting to just a fraction of its outlay on the rights and production.

What this means for English Premier League viewers in Spain.
Hopefully the Al Jazeera signal will be available in Spain, on 80cm or 1m satellite dishes.
It is then a question of what the supply of the receivers and viewing cards will be like……

Jun 222013

The Premier League is to request a court order forcing internet service providers to block a popular football streaming website,, which operates from Sweden, before the next season.

It is understood that none of the ISPs plan to challenge the court order.

The Premier League’s move follows a precedent set by the BPI music industry body, which has been successful in having several piracy websites blocked in the UK, most notably the Pirate Bay.

In those cases, ISPs have stood firm and insisted they would only take action if ordered to do so by the courts.

The UK’s major ISPs each received a letter from the Premier League outlining a possible court order, and were given a deadline of Friday to signal any intent to challenge the action.

The situation raises additional issues for BT, as from next season it will be a major distributor of Premier League football through its new sports TV channels.

BT has paid £246m for rights to show Premier League football, while Sky paid £760m for its portion of the coverage.

Jun 042013

Middle East football fans face missing the kick-off to the English Premier League (EPL) football in August as negotiations over broadcast rights drag on, a Dubai-based TV operator has warned. Broadcast rights for the Middle East are still undecided, amid a deadlock over fees to air EPL games.

This means that – with just three months to go until the start of the next season – fans of teams such as Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have no idea how they will be able to watch the games in this region.

Regional television rights to EPL games were reportedly acquired in January by media broker MP & Silva, which plans to resell them to one or more broadcasters across 23 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

But despite rumors to the contrary, MP & Silva is yet to strike a deal – and the rights allocation is now running into extra time.

Negotiations have been complicated by a backlash among regional broadcasters against the soaring cost of the rights, which fetched $360 million for the 2010-2013 seasons – a threefold increase on the previous three years.

That comes despite media speculation that the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Sports had won rights to carry the EPL games exclusively on its network.

Zouein played down fears that the late allocation of the rights would mean football fans would miss the start of the season.

He said MP & Silva was confident of striking a deal “at the right time”, and insisted that would leave enough time for successful bidders to finalize the broadcast logistics, along with the marketing and sale of EPL packages to consumers.

The executive confirmed that MP & Silva had “approached all potential broadcasters” in the region about the potential acquisition of the rights.

These include Abu Dhabi Media (ADM) – the current holder of the EPL broadcast rights – along with Al Jazeera and OSN.

Others include Dubai TV – which is owned by the government-run Dubai Media Incorporated – along with Sharjah TV, as well as networks in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. “Our policy is to talk to everyone,” Zouein said.

OSN held the rights during the 2007-2010 seasons of the football tournament, for which it paid a reported $120 million.

The rights to the next three seasons were sold to Abu Dhabi-government owned ADM for almost $360 million, according to several industry sources with knowledge of the deal. That did not make for a profitable business given that ADM’s pay-TV subscriber base is below 350,000, according to several industry sources.

MP & Silva is said to have paid around $300 million for the rights, although Zouein said he did not know the exact figure.

That deal was part of a haul of global rights sales that is expected to bring the EPL a windfall of more than $7.9 billion for the 2013-2016 seasons.