After bidding £897m to win the rights to broadcast the Champions League for three years from 2015, BT Sport chief executive Marc Watson has issued a not very shrouded warning to their competitors. Well Sky.
“We have been able to afford some pretty eye-watering sums because it drives a position in a big and lucrative market, and we are in a position to invest more.”
Nobody’s eyes are watering more than Sky Sports right now as they reel from the loss of European club football. They may want to start wearing a cup because BT plan to continue kicking them squarely in the balls for the foreseeable future, by making eyes at FIFA for the rights to screen the World Cup.
It’s not as if the Sky Sports chiefs can complain either. They adopted the exact same tactic when they outbid ITV and BBC for the newly formed Premier League rights back in 1992. Sky simply barged its way to the front of the queue, solving every problem with a bag full of money ignoring the natural order of things. When it got there it spent 20 years shouting and gesticulating louder than everyone else.
Like that loud and cocky shit in your class in school who was popular in spite of his personality because his parents were never home and they left the drinks cabinet well stoked and unlocked. So you put up with his idiotic remarks because of the fun times he could provide.
Well there’s a new boy in the class and his parents grow their own weed. So far he’s being less of a dick too but don’t expect this to last. Absolute power and all that.
While we have a monumental financial battle to look forward to when the Premier League rights come up for renewal in 2015. Before that happens BT are muscling in on the World Cup action, looking to secure some of the rights for 2018. Poor BBC and ITV are running out of hiding places.
BT’s ability to air free-to-view programming gives them an advantage over Sky, who are ineligible for the World Cup rights. ‘Suck on that Murdoch’ is the message we’re taken from this aggressive activity. Even if that’s not BT’s intention it’s comforting to think it might be.
Bet on BT
So just six months in and BT are making some serious waves. They’re putting together a very comprehensive sports package and they appear to be more than willing to outbid Sky to get what they want. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns though. Somehow they’ve ended up with Michael Owen as a commentator. The auditory equivalent of watching really annoying and cliched paint dry.
How will Sky react? Are they just flat-track bullies who will now retreat in to obscurity or will Rupert Murdoch and co come out fighting? If the end result is more sport at a lower price for the consumer it really doesn’t matter who wins.
2018 World Cup: Paddy Power odds on UK broadcast Rights For All Matches
- 5/6 BBC/ITV
- 5/6 BBC/ITV/BT Sports
- 14/1 BBC/BT Sports
- 14/1 ITV/BT Sports
- 20/1 BT Sports