Written by Sport, TV

England Match Not On Terrestrial?

Well – as things stand, England’s World Cup qualifying games against Croatia and Andora will not have so much as highlights coverage on either BBC or ITV according to a piece in The Times.
It comes down to the fact that while England’s home games were sold to ITV as part of a larger deal that ITV and Setanta signed with the FA which included coverage of FA Cup fixtures, away fixtures are sold by the various overseas rights holders. In this instance, Setanta purchased the majority of those rights last year following the draw for the qualification groups for the 2010 World Cup. In reality, they were probably bundled together by a rights organisation and sold on behalf of the Croatian, Andorran and other football associations.
Anyway, Setanta paid top dollar for those fixtures and they’re now in a position where they want to use them as a big driver for subscriptions. Arguably, this is Setanta’s make or break season. With those rights, the FA rights previously mentioned, and their Premier League rights, Setanta needs to reach a critical mass of subscribers.
There was talk about Setanta being sold – perhaps to BT or ESPN. But the market isn’t right for that, and with a recent rise from £9.99 to £12.99 a month for the Setanta package, they need to start earning some of the money that they’ve paid out.
So the question is this: can they hold ITV or the BBC to ransom to pay something for highlights. Or do they consider it worthwhile to keep the price out of reach and try to gain subscribers. England’s been looking a little lacklustre of late – friendlies are not being sold out. Would you pay £30 to see England play Kazakhstan for goodness’ sake?
But on the other hand it’s embarrassing for the FA to see the majority of the interested population only able to catch goals from news highlights. I suspect that a deal will be done at the eleventh hour, but you can’t be too certain.