May 11, 2012 10.15 Europe/London By Julian Clover
The knock on effects of the High Court ruling on the distribution of Premier League football outside of the area for which it was originally intended continue to be felt, writes Julian Clover.
This week there have been two announcements from the Premier League on future rights deals. The first relates to the domestic rights, now extended to seven packages, through the addition of those matches displaced from Saturday afternoons by midweek fixtures taking place “in Europe”.
The second is the award of a new rights deal for Modern Times Group in Sweden and Denmark.
The Nordics have long been a prime territory for English football, the combination of local players that ply their trade in the lucrative English market, as well as an old fashioned enjoyment of the game.
Long before the invention of the Premier League, the old first division was seen on Nordic broadcasters, crucially with the 3.00pm Saturday kick-off that remains off the agenda as far as domestic coverage is concerned.
The attraction of course has not gone unnoticed, either by Karen Murphy, the Portsmouth ladylady highlighted in the London High Court, or the Premier League itself, anxious to hold onto the substantial revenue it receives in the UK from Sky and ESPN.
As digital technology has allowed more content to be squeezed in Viasat and others have been able to offer their viewers a choice of matches.
However, not long after the Murphy case concluded at the end of February, restrictions emerged on what could be broadcast emerged. It means that satellite viewers, not just in Scandinavia but beyond, no longer receive a choice of matches. Instead there is a single 3pm kick-off.
In the case of Viasat, which has successfully developed its IP-delivered Viasat Play, available online and through a variety of connected TVs, the matches remain available, just not on satellite.
Viasat producers also get to choose which match they get to show as the main attraction. The remaining games are still shown on satellite, but only on a time delayed basis.
It could easily be argued that with six packages currently available, distributing matches on Saturday lunchtime, Saturday evening, Sunday lunchtime, Sunday teatime and Monday evening, the best games are already taken.
For some viewers it will be an inconvenience that they no longer have the choice – a few will no doubt have called customer services to complain – but perhaps those doing the majority of the moaning will be those who really shouldn’t have been watching in the first place.