Well that sucks.
BT Sport have stunned most casual observers not by re-upping their deal to show Champions League and Europa League football but by locking out all live games and highlights. This means they’ll be no terrestrial coverage even in highlight form. This shows us that UEFA are still money-grabbing so and so’s but also that BT are here to stay. They don’t care if they lose money on this deal because they believe it’ll be a loss leader for years to come.
Guy Laurent Epstein, who is the UEFA marketing director said, ‘UEFA is delighted to have extended the relationship with BT Sport for a further three seasons, taking our partnership to 2021.
‘BT Sport has proved to be an innovative broadcast partner, pushing the boundaries and covering the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in new ways.
‘BT have delivered strong audiences in the UK and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media which will engage a growing fanbase that consumes sport in different ways.’
I’ll translate that for you. What he means is ‘BT offered us the most money. Simples’ before he did an impression of a meerkat.
It makes little difference to me as I have BT Sport anyway but when they bid for the highlights package as well to deprive people without BT Sport any legal way of even watching the highlights, you have to look at the company and shake your head. This is a move designed to put BT Sport on the map and force football fans who want to watch any coverage of Europe’s premier club competitions to shell out the money. Talk about being ruthless.
In an article entitled, BT denies squeezing customers after paying £1.2bn for Champions League in The Guardian today John Petter, who is the chief executive of BT’s consumer division came out swinging denying that the rampant price rises for BT customers has anything to do with sports rights purchases. Even though most believed the previous contract was a massive overpay, BT have given UEFA 32% more money this time around. With Sky not expected to try and win back the rights with any massive bid, BT didn’t have to give UEFA just a big rise but chose to anyway.
Look I am a massive sports fan. Ask anyone who knows me in real life and I literally work my life around what games I want to watch on the tellybox. Yet even I can see when the TV rights bubble is ready to burst. This is a gross overpay by BT (as was the last Premier League deal by Sky) and with the fear that Discovery or Google TV will try to throw their hats into the ring, these two big companies will continue to pay over the odds for live sports coverage until one of them completely cracks. This surely can’t be too far away from happening.
I am appalled that they locked out FTA coverage of highlights. I just think that shows that they don’t care about people at all and are money grabbing eejits. I suspect this deal will lead to the brand of BT being tarnished even more. I am on the record as not being a fan of a multitude of their sports coverage (I can find it a bit too dumbed-down) but I’ll give them their due, when Gary Lineker anchors their CL coverage it works much better as when watching it I feel it is less pally and more robust discussion.
With the Ashes this winter being their first foray into English cricket (and with the best names all contracted to Sky) they say they’ll produce their own commentating team full of the second-tier commentators. This fills me with dread. I can only hope that Test Match Special can be synced up with BT’s pictures (or they at least offer the Channel Nine commentary from Australia) otherwise I think I’ll go stir-crazy this winter.
So BT Sport are here to stay. They’ll continue to ebb away at my enjoyment of watching sport. When a company thinks that Dareen Fletcher (or I should say ‘Fletch’) is better than Ian Darke as a lead commentator you know they aren’t looking to provide the most professional coverage about. They have it their own way. ‘This is how we do it on BT Sport’ yells Jake Humphrey all the time. Yes, so it is. It is worse than how everyone else does it and you ensure that FTA highlights aren’t available on TV and that you’ll show some clips through your social media Bravo BT Sport. Another bad day for fans, your customers and no doubt your shareholders.
What a day…
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