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.