As we are getting ever closer to Christmas, all the avid sports viewers, like me, will be anticipating the new TV deals on a wide range of sports. Some will win, some will lose, but we all look forward to what BT and Sky have to offer over the next year or two. Or will there be another rival waiting to pounce?
As we are midway through BT Sport’s exclusive rights for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, the next deal will be arriving soon. The question on some peoples’ lips are, will we ever see exclusive rights for the Champions League happen again? I assume not. UEFA admitted that BT Sport’s TV deal was ‘a mistake’. So we could see perhaps a return for terrestrial channels to broadcast Champions League. The front runner will of course be ITV, as the BBC are still making cuts to the sport sector, as they try to retain Wimbledon, the FA Cup, and Premier League highlights. But you never know. Obviously, the free-to-air channels will not have the majority of the rights, so it will come down to either BT or Sky to battle it out.
Moving away from football, the next big one to mention is cricket, as it is becoming even more competitive. The most recent deal went in favour of BT Sport, as they sealed an £80 million, five year deal with Cricket Australia, which most notably will include next year’s Ashes series, and the KFC Big Bash League. With their fantastic work with Sunset+Vine Productions (who also work on Channel 5’s cricket highlights programme) on their cricket coverage, they could be in good contention to pick up the ECB rights, which could be decided within the near future. However, the ECB have pushed for terrestrial channels to play a huge part in this deal, as the BBC have been contacted about being a part of the new rights deal. The deal will not be finalised until a new Twenty20 format has been finalised, so there might have to be a lot of patience.
Onto tennis, and it has been yet another crucial year for Andy Murray, as he clinched the year-end World No.1. So is he the saviour of tennis coverage on British TV? As soon as Great Britain reached the World Group of the Davis Cup, the BBC airs live coverage of Britain’s matches, which last year included the final. Also, the BBC have extended rights for Wimbledon and the ATP World Tour Finals. There have been rumours that BT, EuroSport and ITV are ready to take on Sky for the ATP rights from 2019. From Sky’s three main rivals, it looks like EuroSport will be the favourites, as they have coverage of all four grand slams and some ATP World Tour events, and of course took exclusive rights of the US Open from Sky Sports. BT have rights for the WTA Tour, and have recently extended that deal as well. It’s so hard to predict whether the rights for the ATP World Tour would go to a rival broadcaster or not.
In terms of Rugby Union, there isn’t very much to talk about, but it is very interesting to mention the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, which of course the rights are shared. But will we see exclusivity in the future? We’ll just have to wait and see about that. It’ll also be interesting to see whether the Six Nations Championships will stay on Terrestrial television, but that can be discussed at a future date.
Could we see a rise in Internet sports broadcasting? There have been rumours flying around the United States that Amazon are looking to add live sports coverage to their Amazon Prime customers. They have been contacting the major sports leagues in the US, such as the NFL, MLS and the NBA to discuss a rights deal for the US company. Twitter, also have rights to stream 10 ‘Thursday Night Football’ NFL games. this will change the whole complexity of how people can view sporting events.
As sporting events are moving away from terrestrial events, does this mean that subscription channels are getting stronger, or is the rivalry between Sky and BT too strong, and could we see it damaging both their businesses. Will Amazon look to spoil the party, or will it be one step too far for them? There’ll only be one way to find out. Keep watching.