The English Premier League will launch its own TV channel in 2010 if the value of bids for live television rights falls during the coming auction for the period 2010-13, writes Nick Harris. He said
the move would be to make the clubs "recession-proof" and safeguard its most important source of income.
However, the newspaper surveyed prospective bidders and said it seems
unlikely that the recession will affect the value of the upcoming bids. "Contrary to the financial turmoil in most sectors of business, the League's overall TV income -- 2.7 billion pounds
($4.1 billion) over three years last time, 1.7 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) of that for live United Kingdom rights alone -- seems likely to remain high."
According to one
broadcast executive whose company will be bidding, "I cannot see the rights value doing a nose dive. There is no evidence of a decline in interest in Premier League football. The opposite in
fact." Another said, "The channels [broadcasters] with football already are not going to want to lose it. Those who don't have it want it more than ever. Football remains totally
important to the business model. There is a fear factor among the broadcasters that will maintain a healthy rights income for the Premier League."
But the EPL is concerned enough
about a slump that its own TV channel has become a fall-back option. It would sell subscriptions to live games "direct to the public, on multiple platforms, as well as via established
broadcasters in carriage deals." One source described it as "absolutely feasible, if not perfect. If that is the route the League and its clubs need to take to secure these important
revenues going forward, it will happen."
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