Home of football loses Champions League rights

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    Iconic scenes mimicking Zinedine Zindane’s outrageous volley in 2002, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dramatic winner in 1999 and Real Madrid’s La Decima will no longer be screened on free-to-air Australian televisions this season unless a contingency deal is brokered.

    UEFA documents released publicly have revealed that Al Jazeera’s beIN Media Group have seized exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League, and Super Cup for the next three seasons in Oceania.

    The move ends public broadcaster SBS’s long held mantle as the king of European football coverage, which has slowly waned over the last decade after the loss of English Premier League rights to Foxtel.

    It is the end of an era, with SBS covering the Champions League for the past 20 years, and will put further doubt on whether the FIFA World Cup and other football competitions will continue to be screened on the ‘home of football’ in the long term.

    While the move away from Australia’s football flagship is a blow for SBS fans, the same cannot not be said about ESPN missing out on the deal.

    ESPN coverage of the Champions League has never truly been able to deliver the crisp and quality commentary and analysis of its competitors, and beIN Sports should be well placed to produce a more enjoyable product.

    The Copa America rights swapped hands from SBS to beIN Sports Australia for the first time this year and the coverage was reportedly impressive. Hopefully the same will be said about their handling of the world’s biggest club competition.

    Another upside is that all games will be broadcast live, with beIN Sports’ internet channel, beIN Sports Connect, providing a platform for every single match – from qualification play-offs to the final.

    Whereas ESPN’s coverage often focused on a English Premier League-dominated agenda, and SBS showed the game of the week, subscribers will now be able to follow whichever team they wish, and seek out the more entertaining and niche fixtures.

    However, the extra $19.99 expected to be charged for the service on top of existing Foxtel contracts is a bit steep given the broadcast will be in standard definition. If they can upgrade to high definition then fair play, but otherwise it feels a bit excessive.

    Unfortunately for SBS this downgrade in football coverage has been earmarked ever since the Abbott government announced hefty cuts to the public broadcaster. Speculation was already mounting in March.

    The move may also spark fresh rumours about SBS’s future football coverage, with their A-League contract running down in 2017. The long-held FIFA World Cup rights will no doubt be something they will try to hold onto.

    Details over the cost or length of beIN Sports’ new deal are yet to be confirmed, and it is still possible that SBS may open talks with them to arrange a similar deal they held with ESPN. However, given beIN Sports’ chance for exclusivity, it would appear unlikely.

    It is a shame for football fans who have slowly watched as SBS’s football coverage diminished more and more. For those who grew up with football before the A-League rolled around, it is another sad nail in the coffin.

    The recent FIFA Women’s World Cup coverage showed that SBS can still provide some of the best sport coverage in the country, while their handling of the Champions League is all many fans know. Waking up midweek at 4:30am and joining Craig Foster and the crew has long been a tradition among football fanatics.

    Sadly, the scenes of Lionel Messi mesmerising Camp Nou or Pep Guardiola manically directing his Bayern troops may never grace SBS screens again.

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • July 15th 2015 @ 2:53pm
      Bondy said | July 15th 2015 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      I wonder if the home of football SBS will have any live content in the next 3-5 years ? .

      • July 15th 2015 @ 3:46pm
        jamesb said | July 15th 2015 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

        It could be alot sooner. SBS may not have any football content within a year or two. Which is sad really.

        • July 15th 2015 @ 4:45pm
          SVB said | July 15th 2015 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

          The funny thing is that SBS had a soul as television network when football (soccer) was at its lowest point in Australia. When the likes of Les Murray and Johnny Warren, and even Paul Williams and Simon Hill were there, it still had something about it and the shows were quality viewing regardless of the state of the sport in this country. They lost a lot of quality commentators/experts and didn’t replace them adequately. The likes of David Zdrilic, Jason Culina and Zeljko Kalac is painful viewing. Foz is line ball depending on his emotions. In a way it is like something that is slowly fading away in the distance, and many are just accepting the inevitable.

          I think SBS as a TV station has gone down in quality in general, and it might be due to them trying to mimic the bigger stations too much rather than creating its own niche in the market. In the stakes of trying to be crass, tacky and sensationalist, channels 7 and 9 will always win that battle.

          • July 15th 2015 @ 10:10pm
            Peter said | July 15th 2015 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

            Contact your Federal MP – especially if he/she is in the LNP – and complain about Abbott’d cuts to SBS.
            This is where the problem lies.

          • July 16th 2015 @ 8:44pm
            midfielder said | July 16th 2015 @ 8:44pm | ! Report


            What can I say you nailed it on SBS

    • July 15th 2015 @ 5:05pm
      oly said | July 15th 2015 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

      “beIN Sports should be well placed to produce a more enjoyable product”

      Not sure about this. The coverage of the Copa America was horrible, how they think it’s a good idea to have Richard Keys and Andy Gray on air is beyond me.

      beIN Sports need to sort out HD. Wouldn’t be surprised if they made a play at the EPL next…

      • Roar Guru

        July 15th 2015 @ 5:33pm
        Fussball ist unser leben said | July 15th 2015 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

        Andy Gray?

        I’m pretty sure it was Ray Hudson with special comments on BeIN for Copa America. He’s a bit over-the-top – normally that can annoy me but I find him very amusing.

        • July 15th 2015 @ 6:22pm
          Steve said | July 15th 2015 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

          Ray and Phil only did the US commentary. Keys hosted the global studio coverage.

          • Roar Guru

            July 15th 2015 @ 7:00pm
            Fussball ist unser leben said | July 15th 2015 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

            Ok thanks. So, BeIN had multiple English language commentary teams in Chile for Copa America? That seems like a waste of production costs?

            • July 16th 2015 @ 9:25am
              oly said | July 16th 2015 @ 9:25am | ! Report

              Ray Hudson is terrible, was very happy when they didn’t use him for the Copa final.

    • July 15th 2015 @ 7:24pm
      Barca4life said | July 15th 2015 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

      Contrast in Europe where football is left and right on FTA and cheaper pay TV, how could we grow the game further without this exposure?

      Not many can afford to pay $80 per month.

      • July 16th 2015 @ 10:03am
        Steve said | July 16th 2015 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Only if it is under anti siphoning rules is it on FTA, otherwise it is locked up in Pay TV. Try watching an PL game in England on FTA….

        Now PayTV is cheaper for sure….that’s a different story…

      • July 16th 2015 @ 4:56pm
        oly said | July 16th 2015 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

        Look at England, there are no EPL games on free to air and not even all the games are shown on pay TV (no Saturday 3pm games are televised).
        BBC only have the FA Cup and home England qualifiers, so this idea that Europe has a stack of FTA football isn’t true.

        • July 16th 2015 @ 6:20pm
          nickoldschool said | July 16th 2015 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

          Agree oly. only ppl who have never lived in Europe think domestic leagues are everywhere on FTA.

          Only some cup games and (in the past) mid week European matches, were broadcast live on FTA, plus the NT of course, but not one single regular season game. These days even not all WC games are live on FTA, same with UCL and other cups.

          Its possible a few regional channels (the Basque one used too in the early 2000s) may still show some live games but overall, most western euro countries do not show regular season games on fta and haven’t done so for a long long time (if ever).

    • July 15th 2015 @ 10:27pm
      Lionheart said | July 15th 2015 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

      Pay an extra $19.99 pm, pw whatever, no way. That’s a rip off, certainly won’t expand viewer numbers. Watching in the UK recently, their BT Sports is great, 3 channels HD and sd with expanding number of games, includes A league live.
      I enjoyed MLS last season, on ESPN I guess. Never noticed BeIn sports until recently.

      • July 17th 2015 @ 11:44am
        Justin Mahon said | July 17th 2015 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        I just replaced my increasingly shit ADSL2+ for $70pm with Optus Fetch Cable TV/Internet for $90pm. I was therefore able to dump Foxtel’s ‘Entertainment Pack’ saving me $25pm. Net result – I have very fast internet and the same Pay TV options for $5pm LESS than I was paying previously.

        I mention this because beIN access is on Fetch TV also, and as soon as I can get an A-League IPTV subscription (direct from the FFA, other or on beIN) it is goodbye Foxtel – saving me a further $30-50pm depending on the cost of the service.

        The Fetch TV system eliminates two remotes and the box also fully integrates my private media library (video, iTunes and pictures on OneDrive), YouTube, the FTA catch-up TV services, IPTV subscriptions and a bunch of very cool things too. It’s vastly superior to the Foxtel one.

        Foxtel are in strife. I hope that this means they ‘pay up’ big time for the A-League in 2017 and beyond. They are cooked otherwise.

        • August 5th 2015 @ 11:55am
          Jedi said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          How are foxtel in strife ?
          The internet still cant mimic the HD quality from their satellite service. They have the NRL and have just signed another massive deal with them. They have a dedicated channel to AFL and 80% of the games in HD like he NRL. They have the Super 15 and all Rugy tests and world cups. They have the EPL and Spanish La Lagi. A-League ? LOL seen better at primary school matches.

    • July 16th 2015 @ 8:27am
      AZ_RBB said | July 16th 2015 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      Sorry if this has been covered. But will beIN have a multi channel option? At the moment the biggest drawback of beIN is that they have the rights to a ton of leagues across many sports but can’t show most of it because they run concurrently and they only have 1 channel. The good thing about the ESPN/SBS coverage was that you could often take your pick of 3 different games and sometimes a 4th option online.

      • August 5th 2015 @ 12:00pm
        Jedi said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

        Thats what annoyed me the most about beIN is the lack of channel options and no HD streaming,. Once you go HD for sports you never go back . I feared beIN wouild get a major event like the Champions league and its happened. Poor quality picture for an extra 20 bucks a month is poor return. They are owned and funded by the Qatari government which means they have hundreds of millions if not billions to outbid Foxtel for everything. Could you imagine the EPL on one channel in SD quality. That could happen. The EPL comes up for negotiation in a couple of years I think.

    • July 20th 2015 @ 7:57am
      Neil said | July 20th 2015 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      It is hard not to be political in this, the previous Government supported football via funding of SBS, seed money for WSW and lobby money to get the World Cup here in Australia which unfortunately was not successful due to alleged FIFA corruption.
      Football gets very poor funding from all levels of Government historically compared to the other codes and since the new mob came to power we have lost Women’s football on ABC and look like losing football on SBS and they show very little public support for football compared to the other codes. The Howard Liberal Government’s intervention in football turned the game around, the Rudd Labor Government supported the World Cup bid, the Gillard Labor Government seeded WSW, it is time for the Abbott Liberal government to show its support for the game.
      Football issues probably will not affect my vote one way or the other but politicians should take note their current actions have been noticed by some.

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