TV Rights, best avoided

I see Setanta secured the rights for Ricky Hatton’s next fight in Las Vegas - and it won’t be PPV.

That’s a big win for the station who are obviously looking at developing boxing having signed up John Duddy already.

So now they have:

  • EPL next season (live)

  • SPL (live and highlights)

  • Bundesliga (live on Fridays and highlights)

  • Eredivisie (delayed full matches)

  • Ligue 1 (live)

  • Serie A (live)

  • Rugby world cup (every game, RT only have Irish games)

  • Magner’s League

  • NRL (Australian Rugby League)

  • AFL (Aussie Rules)

  • Formula 1 (Ireland only)

  • Ricky Hatton

  • John Duddy

That’s a decent portfolio to try and break the British market with.

I’d like to see them get the Tour de France (suits a sports channel with plenty of vacant slots during the day).

Its tempting to get the whole Setanta pack for 18 a month.

I think it’s better than Sky now. They’re being really aggressive about acquiring rights to everything that comes up for renewal. Forgot to mention US golf and the FA Cup in that list as well - largely because they don’t interest me. But they are two elements previously with Sky.

One thing that all the competition for TV rights does is spread out all the events over a wider range of channels. It either forces the viewer to pay extra by getting in the different packages or else make a choice on what they really want to see and what they can do without. I got Sky to get the Ashes and I like watching a bit of EPL, La Liga and the wrestling but now Setanta is strongly challenging them and I’ll have a decision to make.

With the EPL being properly rolled out on Setanta next season it’s only La Liga that would retain my interest in Sky. I like watching the cricket but I’m not willing to pay for it. La Liga is available on this site now so I’m happy to pay for Setanta and dump Sky.

Pleased to see Setanta are taking key rights from Sky. Setanta certainly have quite an attractive list of events next year. Unlike therock and Bandage I have no real interest in the EPL so on balance with the Rugby World Cup later on this year I think Setanta have the better package.

Five weeks till kick-off and Sky ruling offers Irish rival Setanta an open goal

Murdoch firm is barred from showing football on Freeview, leaving path clear to claim 11 million viewers

Owen Gibson and Richard Wray
Monday July 9, 2007
The Guardian

Five weeks before the 2007-08 Premier League football season kicks-off, Irish pay TV group Setanta is making a grab for Britain’s armchair supporters, slashing the cost of its sports channels for satellite and Freeview customers as it starts to screen Premiership matches.
Setanta’s move is an attempt to score a goal before bitter rival BSkyB has even got its boots laced up. Freeview subscribers with the right sort of decoder will be able to access the 46 live Premier League matches that Setanta has to itself for 9.99 a month, without needing to sign up for an annual contract. Satellite users - whether or not they have a Sky subscription - will be offered eight Setanta channels for 9.99, down from 15.99.

Setanta’s games, kicking off on August 11, include matches played by the top four clubs and represent the first time that Freeview users have been able to watch live Premier League action. The first 19 matches screened include Aston Villa taking on Liverpool, with Fernando Torres making his Premier League debut, and Spurs’ 125th anniversary celebration game on October 1.

Sky’s own plans to get football onto a pay-TV service on Freeview, meanwhile, were kicked into touch by the media and telecoms regulator last month.

Ofcom’s decision to launch a public inquiry into Sky’s plans for three pay-TV channels on the digital terrestrial TV (DTT) platform - which were expected to include football coverage - has delayed the satellite broadcaster’s launch until at least next year. As a result, Setanta has the 11m Freeview households in Britain to itself for the start of the season.

The new pricing plans follow Setanta’s swoop on high-profile presenters with Blackburn Rovers and Spurs captain Tim Sherwood lured from Sky to sit alongside his former team-mate Les Ferdinand as well as Steve McManaman and anchorman Angus Scott. Setanta will also be available through BT’s Vision platform, along with some matches which BT has bought. Setanta is also on Virgin Media though prices have yet to be finalised.

Setanta was originally blindsided by Sky’s Freeview move, but has remained confident throughout it can boost its subscriber figures five-fold to about one million by the beginning of the 2008-09 season. At that point its deal to show FA Cup and England matches will kick in.

Some in the City, however, are openly speculating about whether Setanta will generate enough interest to keep its venture capital investors happy. It won’t be easy - the list of those who have taken on Sky and won is short.

392m swoop

Setanta has been keen to paint its run of sports rights deals as the equivalent of classic FA Cup giant killings. Following the headline-grabbing 392m swoop for 46 live Premier League games a season, it made a 9m bid for the rights to US golf coverage, and pulled off the dramatic snatch of FA Cup and England games from the BBC and Sky, in partnership with ITV.

Appearing alongside ITV chairman Michael Grade and FA chief Brian Barwick - two men trying to revive fading national institutions - Setanta director of sport Trevor East was clear about its place in the pecking order.

“We are regarded as new kids on the block. But this will make us a very attractive alternative or addition to Sky in the sports TV market. We’ll have more live football than any other UK broadcaster once this deal starts,” he said, referring to its coverage of the Nationwide Conference, Scottish Premierleague and other European leagues.

Joint chief executive Michael O’Rourke agrees. “Before, you might have been able to argue that you could take or leave it. But as a serious football fan it would now be hard to say you don’t want Setanta.” That stance is a subtle shift from Setanta’s line when it won its slice of the Premiership rights, positioning itself as a possible alternative to Sky Sports rather than an add-on.

But amid the romance of Setanta’s rise to prominence, its FA Cup bid raised the volume of chatter in the City about its ability to make the gamble pay. At a time of upheaval in the pay TV market, analysts have been wondering whether it can make its numbers add up.

The 425m secured for the FA by Barwick, a former BBC and ITV sports chief, was a 42% improvement on the previous deal, while the Premier League broke all records by bringing in a total of 2.7bn in its latest round of contracts. Some are now openly speculating that the rights market is close to overheating again, as happened in the years after the dotcom crash.

The big question is whether there is a rump of sports fans who find Sky too expensive and who would be content with digital channels via Freeview or satellite, plus the add-on of Setanta Sport.

Fans can subscribe to Sky Sports 1 and 3 for 34 a month. Viewers would then have to pay extra 9.99 for Setanta, either on satellite or through a Freeview box. So, for those who absolutely must have all top-flight football and golf, it will cost at least 43.99.

There is a lingering suspicion that while Setanta may have secured a range of attractive rights, it is lacking the exclusivity that attracts new subscribers. Sky still has the pick of the Premier League action, the best time slots and the biggest matches.

Insiders say Sky, meanwhile, decided a long time ago that England games and the FA Cup didn’t drive subscriptions. While it still dug deep to secure the rights to 92 Premier League games a season, paying 1.31bn over three years, they also point to the breadth of Sky’s appeal. “Sky Sports is about more than football and Sky is about more than Sky Sports,” says one.

But Mr East, the former number two at Sky Sports, is universally regarded as a canny operator and Setanta executives insist they have secured the rights they want for less than they expected to pay. In any case, the David and Goliath story is a mite disingenuous. While it is true that founders O’Rourke and Leonard Ryan launched the company with a loss-making Republic of Ireland World Cup match beamed to the back room of a pub in west London in 1990, it has since become a major player in Ireland and the US. Although it is still relatively unknown in the UK, Setanta is majority-owned by investors seeking serious returns, including Benchmark Capital, Goldman Sachs, Doughty Hanson, Adam Street Partners and others.


It is the long-term intentions of those venture capitalists that is sparking most speculation. Mr Ryan insists they are in for the long haul. “We have raised 400m in the last two years. It’s a fully funded business - if we fall a little bit behind it’s not going to be make or break,” he says, adding that the naysayers should wait and see how it fares.

One of the unanswered questions is how many Freeview boxes have the necessary card-slot to accept the Setanta service. But the company remains confident that those without one will be happy to pay 40 or so to upgrade.

Some with knowledge of Setanta’s targets believe it will struggle and suspect it is holding out to be bought by a rival, perhaps Virgin Media or Disney-owned ESPN, which made a low-key entry in the British market last year. Setanta’s founders and core team are relentlessly upbeat and insist its independence and platform neutrality are its strengths. “Our investors are not sitting around waiting for someone to come in and buy the business. They want to build it and grow it,” says Ryan.

Over at Sky’s Osterley headquarters, meanwhile, the broadcaster that has changed the face of football is limbering up for a scrap. For O’Rourke, it can’t come soon enough.

Line-up to take on Murdoch

  • From August 2007 46 Premier League games a season, with up to 40 featuring the top four clubs in the race to pick up the trophy (pictured). (Sky has 92 games).

  • From August 2008 25 FA Cup games a season, including two quarter-finals and one semi-final exclusively live. Final shared with ITV. (ITV has 16 matches but has first pick of the best ties). FA Community Shield, three international friendlies, all under-21 and B matches, FA Youth Cup, FA Trophy, FA Vase

  • Scottish Premierleague 60 games a season

  • Nationwide Conference 79 games a season

  • European football French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch.

  • Golf US PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Nationwide Tour, Asian Tour

  • Rugby union Celtic League, French Top 14

  • American sport NHL, MLB, NCAA basketball

  • Racing 30 of 59 courses

  • Motor sport British Touring Car Championship, Nascar

More Setanta related news:

They signed Des Lynam and James Richardson there last week. Lynam is brutal IMO but Richardson isn’t a bad presenter at all.

They’re also making a Sky Sports News type channel to go with their package which would be a cracking development from them. Much as I dislike Sky SSN can be very watchable as filler tv though it gets annoying after about 10 minutes.

Here are some of their shows for this year:

Monday - Maccas Monday Night,
Steve McManaman and Angus Scott review the goals and previous weekend of Barclays Premier League games and look forward to the forthcoming weeks action. The show, which will precede Setantas live Monday night football, will include special guest appearances

Tuesday - Back of the Net,
A full round up of all the best goals from the Barclays Premier League, Clydesdale Bank Premier League, Blue Square Premier as well as action from the Portuguese, Dutch, German and French leagues.

Wednesday - Football Matters,
Football Matters sees Angus Scott lead a panel of guests including Setanta pundits, players, managers, & journalists as they discuss the burning issues and topical stories surrounding the world of football. The show will offer a high level of viewer interaction as fans will be invited to email their thoughts and requests for favourite clips and football footage to be analysed by the guests.

Blue Square Premier (formerly the conference league)
Setanta Sports is dedicating Thursday nights to the Blue Square Premier league. 60 exclusively live league games as well as action from the inaugural Setanta Shield cup competition and the end of season play-offs will give fans of this league a dedicated time to view their team. Presented by Steve Bower with ex-England star Paul Parker co-commentating.

Friday Football Show,
Presented by James Richardson, Friday Football Show will be the biggest and best football preview show on television. With big name interviews conducted by the one and only Des Lynam, it will provide all the relevant football news and views leading up to the weekend fixtures.

Barclays Premier League Goals,
Your week is completed by this special Premier League goals round-up show at midnight on both Saturday and Sunday evenings!

Looks decent. I agree that they needed a Sports News Channel. Should be watchable.

Setanta has announced it has acquired the rights to four Champions League third qualifying round clashes involving Liverpool, Arsenal, Celtic and Rangers.

Liverpools Champions League third qualifying round first leg fixture away to Toulouse on Wednesday August 15 will be exclusively live on Setanta Sports 1. This will be followed by Arsenals first leg trip to Sparta, Prague at 7.45pm the same evening.

Setanta will also feature Celtic and Rangers third qualifying round matches including its first leg visit to Spartak Moscow live on Setanta Sports 2 from 4.30pm on Wednesday August 15. Rangers second leg clash in Serbia against Crvena Zvezda will see them through to the group stages of the Champions League.

Michael ORourke, joint chief executive, Setanta Sports, said: “This is another coup for Setanta to acquire these crucial Champions League clashes. On the back of our debut Barclays Premier League season which kicks off on Saturday August 11, these games give football fans out there even more top class football on Setanta at a great value price.”

Any thoughts on the Setanta coverage yesterday?

I was pretty disappointed by the Angus Scott, Manu Petit, Steve McManaman combination.

It was more or less a clone of Sky, ITV or BBC’s coverage and they came out with the same old platitudes and cliches.

One of the things that annoyed me about Sky, ITV and BBC was they seemed to have a list of players that were immune from criticism. These were always the English players: Lampard, Terry, Owen, Carragher, Scholes and the likes. Gerrard didn’t dive - he was professional - but these foreigners like Drogba are a scourge on the game etc etc.

I was hoping Setanta would be objective and call things straight. Then you have Carragher give away a stonewall penalty yesterday. A blatant hand ball where he moved to the ball and controlled it with his hand rather than this ‘ball to hand’ thing. He knew it himself and held his head in his hands and didn’t dispute the decision.

Back to the studio and neither Manu or Macca thought it was a penalty because ‘all professionals know what an honest lad Carra is’.

Please fook off.

Yeah I’m very disappointed that Setanta didn’t see the punditry as an area to differentiate themselves from Sky. After a game on RTE there’ll be plenty of lads on here criticising some rant of Dunphy’s (and often rightly so) but you’d never contemplate putting on any other station showing the same game instead.

Setanta had a clean slate to tackle the UK market and would have been all too aware of what has been successful in Ireland but they choose to play it safe. Recent ex-players do not make any sort of reasonable pundit.

I’ll give them another few chances before I conclude one way or the other but based on yesterday I can’t say I’m eagerly looking forward to Macca’s Monday Night where Tim Sherwood will join Macca and Angus Scott to review the weekend’s action.

Rock how is that NTL Plus thing going? What is your total bill for a month? Am I correct in saying with NTL digital Setanta pack you get all Setanta channels, Beeb, Channel 4, Rte, TV3. Remind me does Eurosport come with NTL digital?

Going fine so far Piper. It has frozen on me a couple of times but that’s to be expected because it’s very new. They haven’t even printed the manual for it yet and only put it up on their website at the weekend.

Does perfectly what it says it should do. Records anything on digital to the hard disk and you can watch one programme while recording another. I think on Sky + you can record 2 at the same time but this is not the case with NTL PVR.

The setup of it is fine and it’s really just the same as using Sky + otherwise. Loads of convenience in selecting a programme from the guide to record instead of inputting times etc.

The basic digital is EUR 26 a month. That includes RTE,Tv3, TG4, Channel 6 UTV, Channel 4, BBC1 - 4, More 4, E4, The Discovery channels, the news channels (BBC, Sky, CNN), Film 4, Eurosport, At the Races, Sky Sports News, MTV etc.
It’s missing a couple of music stations and kids tv stations I think which you can get by paying for digital max which is EUR 31 a month.

Setanta is 3 months free then 15 Eur a month for Setanta 1, 2, Celtic TV, etc.

Sky Sports is EUR 25 a month.

Is that British Eurosport you get? Seems excellent value.

It’s not advertised as British Eurosport but I think it is because for example during the Tour it had the studio with James Richardson in it and Stephen Roche as a panelist. I presume the standard Eurosport had no studio so I’m guessing it’s British Eurosport but it’s definitely just called Eurosport. In short, I’m not sure.

Forgot to add that it’s 7.50 a month for the NTL PVR (Sky+ equivalent) but it’s free installation for new customers.

Yeah I think I’ll just go with the basic or maybe the digital max plus the Setanta pack. I am hoping NTL are up my neck of the woods now. If not it will have to be Chorus though have heard nothing but bad things about them.

Forgot to explain that bit to you too.

Chorus and NTL are the same company now. They have been the same company for over a year but becasue of competition rulings and developments in other mergers overseas the rebranding of the new company has taken a while.

They’re called UPC now as a collective company but for the moment they’re still branded separately. NTL in Dublin seem to have rolled out most of the new UPC offerings - like the PVR thing, and my new box says UPC not NTL. However Chorus needed more work to get their network upgraded before they can provide the same services.

I think I read somewhere that it’s October before Chorus gets the full channel and PVR package that NTL now has so you’ll need to wait until then anyway. But they are the same company so once it’s launched you’ll get the same service which is good news for anyone living in a Chorus area because their services were awful.

I can only get Chorus in my area. Was having a look at their website and they don’t seem to offer an equivalent to Sky plus or NTL PVR (would love something like this for the Vuelta). Also Chorus only give you Setanta Ireland and Setanta Sports 1 and Setanta 2, Celtic TV etc. aren’t yet on offer though they do say they will be adding more channels over the coming months. Do I have any other options rock?