Magazine article Marketing

Setanta

Magazine article Marketing

Setanta

Article excerpt

A shaky 12 months has left the sports broadcaster on the ropes. Can it fight back?

The tale of Setanta's origins is the stuff of folklore. Two Irish ex-pats living in London found they couldn't watch the Republic of Ireland vs Holland match in the 1990 World Cup. However, they managed to persuade FIFA to sell them a feed of the game to be broadcast in their local pub.

While the pair, Leonard Ryan and Michael O'Rourke, managed to sell-out the pub to Ireland fans at pounds 5 a ticket, their subsequent attempts to break into the UK market and take on pay-TV's big beast Sky, have been less successful.

In March 2007, Setanta, in partnership with ITV, made an audacious pounds 425m bid for the TV rights to FA Cup games and England's home fixtures. These matches, which commanded a 42% premium on the FA's previous deal with the BBC and Sky, supplemented its rights to 46 Premier League games.

At the time, it looked as if Setanta had successfully shed its image as the home of Celtic sports, such as Gaelic football, breaking Sky's stranglehold on the English football market.

However, it recently failed to retain the packages it owns in the 2010-2013 rights auction. Since then, it has been attempting to delay or renegotiate deals with its existing rights-holders, including the English and Scottish Premier Leagues, while it strives to attract new funding from shareholders.

As fears for its future grow, we asked Tim Bonnet, chief executive of Tequila, and Nigel Currie, director of sports agency brandRapport, how Setanta can avoid disappearing into the mists of folklore.

DIAGNOSIS

- Two industry experts discuss how Setanta can still have a sporting chance

TIM BONNET, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, TEQUILA

Setanta remains a strong player in the marketplace and it will survive, but change is needed.

Its fundamental offering is sport - especially football - from grass-roots through to international level. This gives Setanta a property that consumers care passionately about, but there is more to the broadcaster than just football. The channels available cover boxing, golf, cricket and other popular sports from around the world, taking its offering beyond football and giving it a potentially powerful place in the industry.

Many people involved at all levels of sport will be hoping that a positive conclusion is reached, if only to continue the challenge to Sky's monopoly.

One of the main challenges is to make Setanta's offering more attractive to the consumer, especially following the damaging dispute over England's World Cup qualification highlights at the start of the current football season. …

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