ITV Sport, Direct Sport, Setanta Sports, ESPN UK and NTL Digital Sport, what have they all got in common?
All have risen to challenge Sky Sports dominance of TV Sport broadcasting and all have fallen.
Another huge move occurred in the TV Sports rights world in the last weeks as Eir Sport customers were informed that BT Sport will no longer be part of their package from August first.
TV viewing habits are changing we are constantly told, the TV networks of old have been given their last rites and Netflix has already won.
Just as we come to the end of the second decade of the 21st century, the calls for the priest may just have been a little premature.
The news that NBC spent $500m to secure the rights of the US Office from Netflix purely for their own Linear and streaming service seemed like early onset dementia.
Under the bonnet of the decision was reality, the US Office a NBC production from 2005-2013 was Netflix most viewed programme, holding a 7% market share.
In reality streaming TV service also known as OTT (Over the Top) is set for a earth shattering change as Netflix’s rumoured debts become real and established broadcasters such as BBC, ITV, NBC and Disney move to new more insulation protection of their linear and streaming services.
Eir Sport already has a colourful history in its previous incarnation as Setanta Sport Ireland.
You remember the big new Irish boys on the block who boxed so heavy they took live premier league TV rights off Sky Sports in the mid-noughties?
However just like an Irish builder in the same era, they were spending money they didn’t actually have and ended up closing their operation in Britain.
While Setanta’s profitable international operation remains to this day, the agreement with BT Sport for carriage on the Setanta Sports pack in Ireland was the real saving grace before being snapped up by Eir in 2016.
The TV Sports market is ridiculously competitive so much so that something had to give. December 2017 was the red letter day for science as Sky and BT signed an agreement to end all hostilities.
Part of this means that from August 2019 BT Sport will be available with a Sky subscription also including a new entry on the block “Premier Sports” owned by Setanta Sports co-founder Mickey O’Rourke.
This town isn’t big enough for both of us
Is it the end nigh for Eir Sport? Possibly, especially as Virgin Media Sport which launched in 2018 having secured the Europa League and Champions League rights.
How can Ireland support two sports channels? Especially when the duel in the crown of Virgin Media Sport, the Champions League is readily available with a Sky Sports package?
The attitude from many of shall we say less experienced tech wannabe’s that Sky Sports would simply lie down and allow Eir Sport, BT Sport, Amazon Prime, Netflix et all win was laughable.
I remember the shock in the sports media circles back in 2014 when rumours circulated that “another bid was on the table” for GAA rights.
The rumours were real as Rupert Murdock’s heathen’s entered the market and secured an amount of exclusive rights to the championship.
Yes the arguments exploded, everyone from people in hospitals to those in the pet cemetery were being robbed by the GAA’s corporate greed.
In business terms Sky surely calculated a number of Irish pubs in the UK would keep their Sky Sports subscriptions for the summer months and hence, money made on their deal with the GAA.
When Eir purchased Setanta Sport one prominent sports media employee confidently told me, “That’s the end of Sky with the GAA, Eir will get it”.
Well guess what? When the GAA/Sky deal expired in 2017 a new five year deal was inked! You’re going be stuck with those British bad boys for a while yet!
While technology has changed Sky were the first to embrace it with the Sky Go App. Hence I proudly and legitimately watched Mayo’s stuttering victory over Armagh on my iPad. Something I am very accustomed to.
That new technology has brought Streaming or OTT to a whole new dimension.
Sure we don’t need RTE, what have they done for us? A former Athletics Ireland employee told me as they gave traditional broadcasters the two fingers and introduced their own streaming services.
Indeed, the RTE viewing figures of 80,000 (poor from RTE’s viewpoint) was ditched for a facebook stream which struggled to reach 2,000, produced without any quality camera work and phone and laptop speakers bursting from microphone’s bleeding.
There’s a theme I want to point to here. Streaming for all you sports fans, whether you be Joe McDonagh hurling fans, athletics fans or League of Ireland fans is not going to do anything good for you.
Similar to the FAI’s ridiculous experiment with streaming the Women’s national league, resulting in highlighting poor standard in poor facilities to less than 50 people.
There is a reason established, traditional broadcasters shy away from broadcasting the Milk cup under-12 cup semi-final live.
Just so Jimmies dad can see it, doesn’t mean anyone else wants to see it.
While new boys on the block with dodgy microphones and a cell phone crack-on their next big thing, the old dogs aren’t going to back-down.