Magazine article Marketing

Sky TV Has Limits for Sporting Advertisers

Magazine article Marketing

Sky TV Has Limits for Sporting Advertisers

Article excerpt

Last Saturday the Five Nations rugby tournament kicked off, with England losing out to France in their opening game in Paris. The match was watched live on BBC1 by an audience of about five million viewers.

But if Rupert Murdoch has his way, anyone who wants to tune in to the same event in two years' time will have to go out and buy a satellite dish.

Murdoch has put [pounds]175m on the table in front of the Rugby Football Union, for a five-year deal. The present deal, signed with the BBC, values the event at [pounds]27m over three years. Murdoch's is clearly an attractive offer and the RFU will be tempted to take it.

At the same time, Murdoch is understood to be talking about turning Frank Bruno's fight against Mike Tyson in March into Britain's first pay-per-view television event. Satellite viewers would have to shell out [pounds]20 to see the fight.

Adding fuel to the fire

The moves have inevitably fuelled an already heated debate about access to prime events in the British sporting calendar. Labour MPs are calling for a list of 'protected' sporting events, which should be safe from the grasp of Murdoch and his money-rich media empire.

That list would include the FA and Scottish Cup finals, the Test matches at home, the finals of the All England Championships at Wimbledon, the Grand National and the Derby, the football World Cup finals, and the Olympic Games.

The rights of the viewer to have access to such events has been at the heart of the recent debate. But for many in the marketing and advertising industry, the emergence of satellite television as a major player in the televising of sport has been no bad thing.

Graham Hutton, European development director for CIA Medianetwork, says, in purely business terms, the role of satellite television is proving a positive one. "It is unfortunate for the people who can't afford access to these events, but from an advertiser's and marketing perspective, there are advantages in major sporting events going onto satellite.

"The fact is the consumers who can afford it are more attractive to advertisers. There's no benefit to advertisers if the event is being screened on the BBC, and with ITV there is an implicit demographic class and age wastage, which is often ignored in a search for broad coverage."

Terry Blake, marketing director of the Test & County Cricket Board, backed the role of satellite at a debate held last week on the televising of sport. …

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