Tuesday, 4 August 2009

ESPN Arrives In UK

In the UK a Sport has two options. It can either go with terrestrial television and gain widespread publicity or sell its soul and go to Sky TV and earn buckets full of cash but have a very restricted reach to their fans.
When boxer Amir Khan began to close in on a title shot and shifted to Sky and pay-per-view last year, i thought it would be poetic justice if he got knocked out and after 54 seconds of the first round he was on his backside and out for the count. Thank you to whichever God sorted that one out.
Now that Sky's only rival, Setanta, has wrapped up, the new kid on the sporting block is American channel ESPN which began broadcasting in the UK last night.
First show up was baseball and when i switched over to it this evening, it was baseball again with some commentary by some very excitable and shouty commentators.
ESPN, a part of the Disney family, won the right to show 46 live Premier League matches for the 2009/10 season, and 23 matches a season for the following three years, following an auction after previous owner Setanta went into administration last month.
I understand that ESPN cannot fill it's days entirely with UK football but i am unsure how willing UK customers will be to pay £12 per month for one football match per week and the rest of the time filled with American sports. The reason Setanta folded was because it couldn't draw enough of an audience with it's football and boxing coverage to break even so minority sports that have no following here at the best of times is hardly a crowd pleaser. The Baseball on Five show which showed highlights of the MLB on Sunday nights was dropped from the schedules earlier in the year and that was free to air.
Sky Sports has the cricket, rugby, darts, football, golf and boxing all sewn up so it is difficult to see what ESPN has to offer for it's £144 annual subscription (free to XL Virgin customers which is the only reason why we have it) apart from the occasional football match.
Possibly it is willing to take the hit to the pocket and use its financial muscle to grab the rights off Sky for these sports when they come up for auction next time but until then i can see the annoyingly loud commentators shouting to a very small UK audience.

14 comments:

effay said...

Clearly the UK just needs to adopt more sports. Over here we always have 1 or 2 going at any one time so ESPN flourishes.

Cheezy said...

ESPN has, over the past few years, 'boasted' the worst commentator in any sport in the history of the world. Arise, Sir Tommy Smyth.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2009/apr/15/tommy-smyth-us-soccer-espn

"Other US soccer bloggers have called Smyth "Beelzebub's handmaid", a "pathetic and insulting blight" , a "garbage commentator", a "ridiculous clown" and "the biggest tit on the air" who talks "incessant drivel" and "utters inanity after absurdity after stupidity". Others also opined that Smyth commentates as "if he is watching the game through an aquarium" and that he "needs to be tied to a goal post for Juninho to practise his free-kicks on".

Lucy said...

I can name a few sports that we should get shot of effay. Golf for starters.

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

There are actually a lot of pro sports in the world besides cricket, rugby, soccer, tennis, and golf. What if the Brits broadened their perspectives and learned to like pro sports like hockey, basketball, football, baseball, and extreme sports...

For the past 5 years Euro blogs have been bashing American's for being close minded and self infatuated - when it comes to sports (and many other things) it appears you Brits might a tad close minded...

Q

PS - Oh, I forgot the fascinating spectator sport of darts...

Cheezy said...

Darts is wicked. Any sport where you end up pissed and still win is alright by me.

Lucy said...

Can you imagine that meeting Q where the junior executive suggests your business model to the ESPN big bananas. Look chaps i have a guaranteed way to make a success of ESPN UK, rather than give them Brits what they want, give them what they don't want and charge them for it.
How do you think a UK sports channel that showed cricket matches and netball would do over there against your other sports channels?

Anonymous said...

Uhhh, I wasn't commenting on how to run a profitable business... I was commenting on a lack of willingness to adapt to other cultures in the world...

Q

Cheezy said...

Erm, I live in London, Q. If you want to see the world as a melting pot, there probably isn't a better 25 square miles on the planet.

Cheezy said...

PS: Obviously Greater London is a lot bigger than that, but the middle bit would be enough to walk around in one day :)

Cody Bones said...

Sorry Cheezy, the most diverse melting pot I have ever seen (including London, NY, and Chicago) is with out a doubt Miami. South Beach, now there is a stroll worth taking. WOW

Lucy said...

The post was about ESPN's business model Q although i do agree that the Brits are slow to pick up other sports, we really are all about the football.
I wouldn't say that about us picking up on the wider culture of other countries though.

Anonymous said...

Cheezy,

I live in a small town (under 9,000 people) in Central Texas (backwoods cowboys and rednecks) and in our small town I know people that hve moved here from Taiwan, China, India, Honduras, Mexico, France, and Germany. We often have other guests, especially Japanese, and Hollywooders.

So, it might be hard to impress me. I would have very high expectations for a metropolis like London. Especially since that is where people from around the world have to go to see all the treasures stolen from them in the UK's heyday...

Q

Lucy said...

I believe a touché is in order there Q.

Cheezy said...

There's some good information & opinion about the cosmopolitan nature of certain cities here...

http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question81364.html1.

London and New York obviously get big 'menches', and of interest to Cody is that so does Miami.

Anyway, back to the sport, and Q's concern that we're too dismissive of certain North American games... Check out these links:

http://www.londonblitz.com (American football)

http://www.londonmeteors.co.uk (baseball)

http://www.london-towers.co.uk (basketball)

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/syihc1 (ice hockey team from Streatham... I don't mind ice hockey, mainly because of the violence... although some would say that you don't necessarily need to go and watch the ice hockey team in order to see a good fight in Streatham).

So there you go, Q. If you come to close-minded, provincial London, you can still go and see lots of your favourite sports... Admittedly there might not be many others in the crowd, but that's because they're not very good ;-P

(Just keeping up the 'Persuaders'- style repartee!)