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Success of Sky was never a model for Setanta

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Mihir Bose | 15:29 UK time, Tuesday, 9 June 2009

I do not wish to be too hard on Setanta or sound like General Hindsight who always wins every battle, but the simple truth is that the Irish satellite channel mistakenly thought that Sky's uniquely successful sports formula could easily be replicated.

The fact is Sky's model was not laid out in blueprint at its Isleworth headquarters in west London but evolved over time, often more by accident than design and helped by a very special set of circumstances that are unlikely to recur.

Richard Gough and Derek Whyte promote Setanta sponsorship of the SPL

Setanta was clearly riveted by the oft-repeated story that Premier League football rescued Sky. It did, but also recall that when Sky first started it never charged a fee for its sports channels. It only began demanding money once it had acquired the rights for the Premier League - and even then its initial charge was just £2 a month.

Sky's acquisition of Premier League rights was, like Wellington's description of the Battle of Waterloo, a "damn close-run thing". Had Tottenham, then one of the 'big five' clubs, still been run by Irving Scholar and not Sir Alan Sugar, ITV would have come out on top. That's because Scholar would almost certainly have sided with the four other major clubs - Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton - and voted for Greg Dyke's ITV. Instead, Sugar stood with Sky and decisively tipped the balance the other way.

Sky deserves great credit for the progress it has made, its growth at times surpassing that of the Premier League itself. But not all of its initial projections have worked. At that crucial rights meeting back in 1992, there was talk of making matches available through pay-per-view. But while we in Britain are happy to pay a monthly fee to a satellite broadcaster, we do not like taking our credit cards out for individual sports events. This is in stark contrast to America. Now nobody talks about armchair pay-per-view tickets for football in the UK.

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Setanta must have felt the intervention of the European Commission, which forced the Premier League to have more than one holder of live rights, was divine. But the 46 live matches the broadcaster secured for the 2007/08 to 2009/10 seasons were never likely to dent Sky's portfolio. What's more, in bidding £392m, Setanta overpaid for its particular package. Sure, Sky was forced to pay a lot more to secure its own rights because of the threat posed by Setanta - and I know certain Setanta executives who dined out on that story - but it has proved a very pyrrhic victory.

By the time bidding for the next lot of Premier League rights packages (2010-2013) took place earlier this year, the market conditions had changed. Setanta ended up underbidding by 20% and lost half its rights. It has struggled ever since.

The change in market conditions has also meant that while the Premier League or Indian Premier League can still justify good money, other sports cannot. Setanta's mix of sporting fayre is wrong and, having chased a Sky formula which it thought could easily be copied, it is paying a heavy price, so much so that it may not survive another 48 hours.

Sky, I suspect, would quite like to keep Setanta on as a wholesaler for sports rights, a rival fatally weakened but useful to stop interventions from the likes of the European Commission.

Comments

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  • 1. At 5:32pm on 09 Jun 2009, Joe G wrote:

    A fair article, Setanta's attempt to copy SkySport's outstandingly successful model is akin to Burnley next year launching spending plans and investments in an attempt to match Man United's success. As you quite rightly point out Mihr, it was in hindsight ultimately a suicidal dream.

    But I think at this there are a couple of core issues that anyone who considers picking up the baton of Setanta's rights (presumably the EU law still stands, Sky can't just buy up Setanta's deals?) should bear in mind.

    Competing with Sky, and in more general terms Murdoch's News Corp is always something only the wisest and most sturdy should attempt to do but Setanta seemed to repeatedly make it harder for themselves than it needed to be. It seems ludicrous that the halving of live games in return for a mere 20% reduction on rights fees was something Setanta felt was a victory! They massively overpaid for a product that was already hard to repackage and sell. No offence to the clubs mentioned but Fulham Vs Stoke on a Tuesday night is never going to make people part with their subscription money. This was combined with rights purchases that simply don't seem like things worth forking out large sums for.

    UFC
    David Haye fights
    Aussie rules football
    Irish sports broadcast in the UK

    I think there is room for a seperate subscription channel to sky, they just need to be more in touch with what people are willing to pay to watch!

    Football, golf and major events. Frankly WWE is likely to get more viewers than Aussie rules!

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  • 2. At 5:40pm on 09 Jun 2009, robtheref wrote:

    hopefully the blue square premier will be covered in as much detail by another free to air channel or create a new freeview type channell

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  • 3. At 5:41pm on 09 Jun 2009, paddyparry wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 5:51pm on 09 Jun 2009, PhillipeAlbert wrote:

    As someone who cannot afford satellite or cable, Setanta was a Godsend. I paid for the Broadband service - £7.99 per month - and was rewarded with some of my favourite sports; sports I would not have had access to before: boxing and UFC in particular, but also the prize of Premier League football.

    I point to Setanta's boxing coverage - they made great deals with promoters like Top Rank, Sauerland and Hayemaker and even reacted to subscriber pressure to show certain individual fights. Steve Bunce, their boxing frontman, even listened to fans on internet forums and gave feedback to his Setanta bosses on which fights to buy...unimaginable at Sky!

    I realise most Setanta subscribers also subscribed to Sky Sports, but there were hundreds of thousands of people without satellite or cable who signed up to the Freeview and Broadband service and got spoiled by Setanta's service.

    They were far from perfect, their customer service was appalling and their coverage sometimes amateurish, but I will miss their attempt to cater to fans of all sports and give consumers another option besides the expensive Sky monolith.

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  • 5. At 5:53pm on 09 Jun 2009, wartek wrote:

    Sky Sports is a highly polished stone. As you say, a lot of effort has gone into what we now see. I feel personaly that Soccer Saturday would take some beating by any broadcaster covering any subject. They have the right balance of pundits, entertaining roving reporters and an anchorman at the top of his game. Anyone wishing to take them on needs to learn from Sky's early mistakes and offer quality and what the average armchair viewer wants. Kudos for free to air for the FA Cup Final. As a non subscriber I actually watched the final on Satanta and enjoyed the longer coverage (like the Beeb used to do).

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  • 6. At 6:05pm on 09 Jun 2009, Footy Fanatic - AFC wrote:

    Im not too fussed about the fall of Setanta.

    Awful commentary coupled with drab pundits lead me to watch the England games on tv with 5live commentary.

    If Setanta have to give back teh England rights all the better for everyone

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  • 7. At 6:12pm on 09 Jun 2009, rjaggar wrote:

    Like you, I do not have a crystal ball inside Sky and Setanta, but my gut feeling would be this:

    1. There are certain fixed costs to a subscription-based TV channel, with variable costs being relatively small in comparison. Hence there will be a break-even threshold in terms of subscribers/advertising revenues which can rapidly become quite profitable if you exceed it...
    2. It is probably the case in Premier League football that 20% of the matches are hugely profitable to Sky/Setanta, whereas the rest are less attractive but necessary to provide comprehensive coverage.
    3. As a result, to me, Sky would have:
    i. A large enough number of matches to give good profitability.
    ii. A large percentage of the most juicy games, thereby making it likely that they will be the most profitable operator.

    What it says to me is that any second provider will probably need to have a large operation already, so that the marginal costs associated with adding the operation will be relatively minor, thereby making the proposition more viable.

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  • 8. At 6:15pm on 09 Jun 2009, NoCanariesAllowed wrote:

    Unable to afford the extortionate prices for Sky Sports, our household jumped on the up-and-coming Setanta bandwagon in summer 2007. Setanta offered what Sky couldn't - a cheap service with no ties to unwanted channel packages that could be acquired via Freeview and terminated pretty much at will. It was a bold move by Setanta, and its growing collection of Premiership, FA Cup and England live rights irritated many Sky customers forced to take on another subscription to avoid losing matches they previously had access to. For those of us on Setanta however, it's been great to see a competitor giving us another option which has gained increasing appeal in the last two years.

    This is why I shall be very disappointed should Setanta's brave efforts fail so terribly. I feel they have been very hard done by in unfortunately timing their ambitious expansion to end up coinciding with the economic downturn. If they do survive, which I find increasingly unlikely, I dare say they will be forced to cut back on their rights to such a level that they will no longer appeal to most of their subscribers of the last two years. That would leave people like myself in the awful position of losing the only truly viable option for live sport that we once had, and faced with the prospect of either taking on Sky with its high prices and all its unwanted tie-ins, or do without completely.


    If anyone should have attempted the ambitious experiment of bringing live top-level English football to the Freeview platform, it should have been the giant that is Sky rather than Setanta. Talks regarding replacing the existing free-to-air combination of Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News with a single channel offering a much wider variety of Sky's programming (potentially including live football) seemed to disappear into thin air in Spring 2008, and I have not heard of any such proposals since. It seems highly likely therefore that Sky only has interest in profit from satellite subscriptions and has no interest in making its services more easily available to Freeview customers or those on lower incomes. What Setanta attempted was admirable in my view, and it would be a shame if no-one steps up to fill the void it could leave if it collapses.

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  • 9. At 6:29pm on 09 Jun 2009, bhoy1973 wrote:

    Mihir,

    A very interesing article as always. Perhaps you can answer me a question on the English TV deal. I believe the reason they had to have two seperate broadcasters was due to the EUs belief that having only Sky was considered anti-competition. I find this quite a staggering belief considering that since the inception of Setanta winning the 2 EPL packages the cost to the armchair fan has simply increased. In fact, not only has it increased but recent figures indicate that the increased money paid by Sky and Setanta has only found its way out of the pocket of supporters and into the pockets of players.

    My question is what do other European Leagues have to do to satisfy the EUs belief regards competition on TV deals? I can't seem to find anything concrete on the internet however I don't see the same restrictions in other countries than those placed on the EPL by the EU. Any info on this?

    I ask purely because I find the fact that the EU claimed that by Sky having a monopoly on the EPL coverage then the armchair fan was not offered sufficient "competitive coverage" yet the moment they introduced competition the only loser appears to have been the armchair fan.

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  • 10. At 6:42pm on 09 Jun 2009, Arctic wrote:

    You also have to ask why, after the ITV deal that nearly destroyed the Football League, did any club pin their financial futures on a deal that involved TV rights. Those clubs existed well before TV paid such huge amounts to clubs, but I suppose they foolishly thought the money would just keep coming forever.

    I just don't get why any Chairman would be so stupid as to believe they can pay a salary structure that isn't fully supported by season tickets and merchandise. Trying to compete with Rangers and Celtic without the fans to back the salaries is an exercise in utter stupidity.

    It would be like a Championship side trying to compete with Manchester United or Liverpool, using TV money to pay for unsustainable salaries. Leeds Utd should be a shining example of why that idea will never work. Indeed Liverpool losing 42 million despite having one the highest amounts of Premier League and Champion's League TV money should be a shining example of why that idea will never work. You don't even need the example of the ITV deal to understand what happens when the money disappears, just look at clubs like Southampton.

    If you don't have the stadium capacity as well as the fans to fill the stadium, you can not compete with 60,000 - 80,000 fan clubs. You settle for what your team can manage with a wage structure that won't bankrupt you if unsustainable TV deals fall through.

    No that isn't hindsight, that's a lesson the Football League gave the entire football world several years ago. It was a lesson that every club should have paid attention to - whether they're English, Scottish or Spanish. Real Madrid are going to learn this lesson the hard way too, just as Valencia have done.

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  • 11. At 6:53pm on 09 Jun 2009, Tux789 wrote:

    If only the other SPL clubs listened to us, Celtic and Rangers and gone for sky rather than setanta.

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  • 12. At 7:02pm on 09 Jun 2009, smurfsdabomb wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 7:15pm on 09 Jun 2009, electric arguments wrote:

    martin,i know you love cricket but please dont mention the 'indian premier league',in the same sentance as the premier league.
    it appears you have allowed your own interests to cloud your judgement.
    cricket on any level does not compare in financial terms to footballs richest league.if setanta sports had rights to the whole indian premier league nonesense for'free' it would'nt make a blind bit of diferance to their plight!
    merry christmas.

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  • 14. At 7:24pm on 09 Jun 2009, tricky wrote:

    I think when we look back at this the EU competition laws that allowed Setanta to take a foothold need to be assessed. What have they succeeded in doing. By stating that only 1 of the 5 packages went to an outsider they are saying you can run a PTV platform on 43 poor qaulity matches. Do they understand how these thing work? Setanta's problem was they only relistically thought they would win 1 package the first time around, but instead won 2, thus blowing the gradual business model out of the window. Now they have back off but it is too late for investors seeking quick 5 year profit margins. Taking on Sky was to be a long term plan but got to big to quickly. Had it not been for the credit crunch they may have survived. Hopefully the original directors will be able to get back to doing what the company actually run a profit on. The North American Channel and PTV Irish interests to Ex-pats abroad.

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  • 15. At 7:30pm on 09 Jun 2009, gunnerslover2007 wrote:

    Just wandering if Mr. Bose could do a piece focusing a little on coverage of those less mainstream sports Setanta covered. Personally they've hardly had a prem. game I've been intrested in watching all season apart from the few (3, 4?) involving my own team. The availability of boxing and UFC is a real treat though and I was wandering whether should Setanta collapse we could expect to see them screened by the next highest bidder or is the system of sports economics to rigid too allow them to be broadcast at all below a certain value? I've alwayss wandered about this as they're always seem to be certain sporting events completely un-telivised though I'm sure they could pull in more revenue then the "shopping channel", or be screened on the internet instead, with ad.'s if not by subscription, surely any cash is better then none at all right? As I said any info would be great Mr. Bose as personally I have know understanding of the apparantly archaic workings of sports broadcast economics.

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  • 16. At 7:47pm on 09 Jun 2009, BrianT wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 7:51pm on 09 Jun 2009, f0rumguy wrote:

    Why didnt you just say "but the simple truth is that the Irish satellite channel mistakenly thought that the British Sky's uniquely successful sports formula could easily be replicated." and be done with your clear wish to distinguish nationality?

    All hail Sky. At least now we can go back to the unilateral control of Sky sports. A sad day when the sports broadcasting is returned to a single controller.

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  • 18. At 8:15pm on 09 Jun 2009, mightystags wrote:

    Setanta is, and always has been, a pain in the backside. I preferred it when we had one broadcaster (Sky), but thanks to the EU demand that competition had to exist (even when artificially created), subscribers ended up paying more money than when Sky had a monopoly. As far as I am concerned, it is good riddance to bad rubbish.

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  • 19. At 8:17pm on 09 Jun 2009, Chad Secksington wrote:

    Your tale of how Alan Sugar affected the initial TV rights auction paints a rather rosier picture of it than the tale I recall in the press at the time, which was that satellite receiver manufacturer Sir Alan, openly told Sky what ITV's bid was and to beat it.

    The "auction" such as it is has been heavily skewed in Uncle Rupert's favour ever since, I believe it even allows the bids to be reopened even when there is a clear winner, if the Premier league believes the competing bids are close enough to invite retenders.

    Setanta has made mistakes, but the Premier League has certainly helped them along the way.

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  • 20. At 8:24pm on 09 Jun 2009, Shy Ted wrote:

    The Setanta Cup which was played between clubs in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland looks doomed now which is a shame. Was looking forward to it this year as my team Glentoran were close to winning it last time around only losing in the final. Also as said already the Boxing coverage was top class and I will definitely miss it. They had a gem in Steve Bunce and gave a different option to the very tired Sky Sports way of covering Boxing.

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  • 21. At 8:31pm on 09 Jun 2009, Stevie357 wrote:

    Setanta have done a few things right, such as the IPL, USPGA golf, certain main event boxing matches and the UFC, but in the long run, they clearly hedged their bets on the Premier League, and lost the gamble. If ESPN take over the rights, at least they would have a clue of how to handle a sports channel.

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  • 22. At 8:37pm on 09 Jun 2009, Scarletdragon wrote:

    "At that crucial rights meeting back in 1992, there was talk of making matches available through pay-per-view. But while we in Britain are happy to pay a monthly fee to a satellite broadcaster, we do not like taking our credit cards out for individual sports events."

    There was more than just talk, Sky's Prem Plus PPV service ran for about seven seasons. And I was under the impression it was Setanta's acquisition of two of the rights packages that led to the service being closed due to a lack of rights to show games, rather than a lack of demand.

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  • 23. At 8:57pm on 09 Jun 2009, Some_Random_Guy wrote:

    Quite an interesting and insightful article in something which many might not know about. Maybe you should do more like this instead of recycling old material.

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  • 24. At 9:00pm on 09 Jun 2009, Giggs Curliest Chest Hair - 606 Veteran wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 25. At 9:09pm on 09 Jun 2009, spl_rules wrote:

    right ,,, yes sky offers more,, but for £10 a month how can everybody be complainin??,, it offers spl, premier league, rugby, cricket etc etc.. if ur a rangers, celtic, arsenal, liverpool u get the channels aswell, not like having to pay for the man utd channel. they provide there own golf channel... I have sky aswell and thats like £36.. Setanta is good value for what it gives you

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  • 26. At 9:13pm on 09 Jun 2009, coffeeandnan wrote:

    I haven't seen any live cricket on TV since 2006. I blame BBC and Mosey's dislike of cricket for that.

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  • 27. At 9:18pm on 09 Jun 2009, The Wednesday wrote:

    The answer is simple.

    Sky Sports have Chris Kamara

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  • 28. At 9:26pm on 09 Jun 2009, Lee wrote:

    16. At 7:47pm on 09 Jun 2009, Thomasba wrote:
    It's interesting that the majority of people who think Setanta was good, didn't subscribe to SKY and therefore can have no real comparison.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1st of all, I accept totally your use of the word 'majority', in that statement. I however did have a Sky sub, and thought there wasn't too much difference between the coverage offered by either. So much so, that I cancelled my Sky sub, in an attempt to "stick it to the man" as it were...

    Anyway, a few months later, and the trouble I had when trying to cancel my Setanta subscription, (introductory offer problems) was unreal, and I think that people were more turned off by the amateurish way complaints were dealt with than by some perceived flaw in the programming.

    The crux being, as the subscriber wasn't tied to a minimum contract, it was easy to cancel the direct debit and deal with them on one's own terms, rather than the fiasco of having to send a letter to the customer services dept.

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  • 29. At 10:05pm on 09 Jun 2009, DC wrote:

    Interesting article, i trust the irony of the big 4 voting for ITV isn't lost on them....

    I think the problem with Setanta is that a lot of their original cpaital was made up of venture capitalist funding. The problem being that these investors want a sharp return on their investment, 8-10yrs isn't going to cut it, but that's how long it takes. Indeed Sky took a while to get going and the premier league saved them.

    Setanta should have stuck with a small niche market that was relatively successful.

    What i think this proves is that

    a) - there is a market for niche players. i like boxing and would pay £5 pcm for quality boxing, but am not interested in a lot of the other offers.

    b) - Perhaps the next best place for football is ITV or dare i say it, the BBC. If the government cottoned on to this, their ratings would go up pretty sharpish, n'est ce pas?

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  • 30. At 11:11pm on 09 Jun 2009, Trimm Trab wrote:

    I was delighted when Setanta got the SPL rights. Ok mostly games with the Old Firm in them but thats to be expected.

    Where it went wrong was this stupid attempt to take on Sky and get EPL matches - for a ridiculous price. Then over pay for further SPL seasons - which will never go ahead now.

    It suggests that the business plan was correct and someone go delusions of grandure. To top if off they went mad with the bidding.

    Delving into the EPL killed them.They should have stayed with more specialist cheaper sectors which appeared to be working.

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  • 31. At 11:27pm on 09 Jun 2009, WebbyFoxes wrote:

    Well its not just the Premier League or SPL that will lose out...the Nn League will but can you blame the hungry money grabbing Conference for selling out to Setanta?
    I think iots late for Setanta to save themselves and its their fault for overbidding...didnt they suspect that they didnt need to overbid for Sky and then paying nearly £300m for SPL rights?
    Thats daylight robbery!
    What puzzled me was when they and ITV took the FA Contract, Setanta didnt look at their bduget and blew millions in the process and then snapped up every right for away games at a risk, I kept thinking 'Setanta wont last that long' and now look, if they go, it will be their fault and I hope the employees of Setanta turn on their managers and Board for their selfishness and disaster of budgeting.

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  • 32. At 11:43pm on 09 Jun 2009, Shaw84 wrote:

    One thing I can't understand is why people think the consumer has to pay more to watch the live Premiership football. The package Setanta show Sky sold to the consumer as Prem Plus which cost £99 for 46 games or £7 per game, mid season they would charge £50. The Setanta package offers loads more for your money.

    I've quite liked having Setanta around. As someone earlier posted they show sports that you can't get on Sky like UFC and certain boxing events. It will be a shame if Setanta do fall, after offering so much.

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  • 33. At 11:46pm on 09 Jun 2009, Timmy_Toerag wrote:

    Sport broadcasting - what a sad and sorry mess and a testiment to human greed, right here in rip-off Britain. Thanks to Sky Sports and their tawdry imitators, never has so much innocent entertainment been denied to so many by the extortion and greed of so few.

    Maybe we should read some books or take some walks and let Sky shove their blackmailing live coverage where the sun don't shine.

    I know you would tell it like it is Mihir if you could but you're just another cog in the same industry.

    Sadly, if you want to watch sport on TV there is no solution - get robbed or go without. What progress.

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  • 34. At 00:33am on 10 Jun 2009, Deils_Advocate wrote:

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

    When entering into any financial arrangement, due diligence should always be carried out. Where were the figures to support Setanta's over-the-top offer?

    The SPL simply saw the pound signs and sold out their core audience: the paying fans, and it's coming home to roost now in spectacular fashion. Perhaps no live SPL will be the salvation for the game in Scotland: punters might have to start attending matches, and club chairmen will maybe appreciate and consider their paying customers more than have when the game has been awash with TV's money.

    Let the young products of the johnny-come-lately club academies fill the team berths, and send the football mercenaries elsewhere to finance their classic car collections.

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  • 35. At 00:42am on 10 Jun 2009, princeDignam wrote:

    Mihir, first of all I agree that Setanta have made some terrible mistakes, so I'm not surprised they're in this miss. However, your claim that they "copied" Sky's business model is baffling.

    Setanta was founded in 1990 with the sole aim of showing Irish sporting events in pubs, social clubs etc in the UK, and it soon extended this service to the US and Australia, among other places. Its first foray into "mainstream" sport in the UK was when it secured the SPL rights in 2004, and then launched a channel available to home viewers on satellite and cable to show those games. This channel continued to show Irish sporting events, and a whole array of football from across Europe, including internationals. More recently they started to focus on a much wider range of sports, including the aforementioned boxing, Aussie Rules, cricket, rugby, motor sport etc. The EPL, while clearly the biggest deal they have entered into by a mile, was one of the most recent aditions to their portfolio (they had been operating successfully for 16 years before bidding on the EPL). As such, how can you argue that they have copied Sky, which by your own admission owes its entire existence to the EPL?

    As others have also mentioned, Setanta has chosen to deliver its service by 2 innovative routes not used by any other subscription broadcaster in the UK - Freeview and Broadband. Setanta also continues to broadcast Irish sports and the SPL directly to numeorus other countries around the world (US, Canada, S Africa, Australia, New Zealand), while Sky does not broadcast its channels anywhere other than the UK & Ireland.

    The only similiarity between Sky and Setanta is that they both show sport. If that's enough reason to level a "copycat" claim, then surely we should go back to the beginning and say that both have copied ESPN?

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  • 36. At 01:43am on 10 Jun 2009, JohnBarnesfreekick wrote:

    A lot of people when castigating Setanta and moaning about how much more money this channel has cost us seem to forget that before setanta we had the joys of 'premiership plus' on Sky. Sky then lost 1/3 of its matches and their subscription price did not change so if anyone is increasing the financial burden it is not Setanta

    I doubt Sky will let setanta go bust as the arrival of ESPN seems to be something they are very keen to avoid

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  • 37. At 02:57am on 10 Jun 2009, canukhatter wrote:

    "Setanta also continues to broadcast Irish sports and the SPL directly to numeorus other countries around the world (US, Canada, S Africa, Australia, New Zealand), while Sky does not broadcast its channels anywhere other than the UK & Ireland."

    Right on princeDignam. As a Setanta subscriber in Canada, I can watch soccer (and more than just the EPL), Aussie rules (which my wife likes to watch), and more. Little of that was available prior to Setanta starting up over here a couple of years ago. There are a couple of dislikes though. Someone else mentioned the broadcast teams - I'd agree that they're not the best, and for the most part neither are the "expert" panels. And here in Canada they run the same annoying commercials all the time, never anything new (not that I'm fond of commercials anyhow), which might well be a problem area for them in that they're unable to attract new advertising business.

    I hope they do stay in business - I think we would still get the occasional EPL game via one of our local sports channels that will pick up a feed from whoever is broadcasting the match, but I doubt we'll get anything like the coverage that Setanta provides.

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  • 38. At 07:53am on 10 Jun 2009, wms-y-shec wrote:

    Post 3 - learn welsh and tune into bbc radio cymru (0154) at 08:30 every Saturday of the season for a laugh & insight into the EPL, WPL as well as the big 3 (Cardiff Swansea & Wrecsam - (yes Wrexham). "Ar y marc" - wish S4C would do a Sky and show it live (as per Chris Evans' breakfeast show in years gone by).
    Maybe the BBC could do this - with subtitles?
    Even Wales games are shown on Setanta sometimes. BBC is to blame for pleading poverty to the WFA when no-one else was interested. Then once drawn against the mighy England the bidding went crazy! If BBC had treated them fairly prior to this, i'm sure the FAW wouldve stuck with them. Loyalty as Setanta will find out - I hope - is invaluable
    P.S.
    The RFU were never treated so badly as the FAW by the beeb.

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  • 39. At 08:10am on 10 Jun 2009, tone1947 wrote:

    #9 bhoy1972

    I can only say that here in Germany, I subscribe to Premiere(similar to SKY) for which I get all Bundesliga I & II live, plus upto 3 or 4 EPL & La Liga. The german games are usually spread over Fri to Mon so that I and II dont clash. At least one game per week is shown on a terrestrial channel. Also highlights are usually available for editing on land channels for eary evening transmission

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  • 40. At 08:28am on 10 Jun 2009, originalkoppite wrote:

    The broad availabillity of internet should make it possible to set up a fans forum that could act as a pressure group to combat SKYs continued rising prices. If enough subscribers got together and agreed not to pay their subs unless they were reduced it would introduce the only rein on SKYs method of dominating their industry which is akin to extortion in that they bid whatever it takes to get broadcasting rights then pass the charge on to the public. This is the sole reason for the exhorbitant wages paid to footballers which undermines an established system of remuneration for workers accross the board.

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  • 41. At 08:35am on 10 Jun 2009, Leeroy Jenkins wrote:

    In my opinion the real killer for Setanta was that when Sky had Saturday night and Monday night matches they were always peppered with big games, whether they were big 4 clashes, sides battling for UEFA places or Relegation battles.

    As soon as Setanta took on that package all those big games dried up and they were left with games that had little or no bearing on the main battles and with little or no major selling points.

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  • 42. At 08:44am on 10 Jun 2009, intellectualgawdi100 wrote:

    Beginning of the end?

    I will not shead a tear if Setanta goes down the tubes. Mahir is correct in his analysis, but I fear he doesn't go far enough. The Italian League is in dire financial straits - something I fear will happen to the Premier League. Everything has become too expensive and people will vote by keeping their wallets shut. A new model is required for football.

    Subscription football has its place, and the next few years will decide on that place..

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  • 43. At 09:06am on 10 Jun 2009, ReubanCent wrote:

    I seriously dont know why Sky and Setanta didnt work together when bidding for premier league right they could have each save a fortune.
    Setanta would have then secured their current rights and maybe had a chance of securing more subscriptions with a revamped anchorship. The current being amaterish at best although the Jose moruinho puppets spitting image stuff was hilarous. They offered good IPL and boxing coverage too, with avaliability on freeview platform as well and felt over time if they managed to get these services consistent they would have suceeded in getting more of the lower end market. Setanta cetainly was better value than the diabolicall pay per view and didnt get half bad matches all the time.
    But the harsh reality is that Sky overcharges for the bulk of the premier league matches with excellent commentary and the fans have no choice to pay them if they want to see the main games, the prices left most fans shortchanged in this climate to pay extra for setanta.
    im worried now that Sky have roughly 75% of rights they may as well up their prices again and with no real competitor theyll get away with it.

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  • 44. At 09:08am on 10 Jun 2009, FreddyOfGreggs wrote:

    Any chance of the GP2 rights being taken off Setanta and being put on ITV or the BBC?

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  • 45. At 09:15am on 10 Jun 2009, wartek wrote:

    As was pointed out in a few posts, I cannot understand the reasoning behind the EU and anti monopoly. Granted the viewer has a choice of what channel to watch his (or hers) football on but again as was pointed out, we have to pay twice. So the only loser being the viewer and the only winners the clubs.

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  • 46. At 09:18am on 10 Jun 2009, James Dunmore wrote:

    Missing the point, that it's the consumer that suffered over all of this.

    Previously, you paid for sky sports, then you either got an amazing deal on a prem plus season ticket, or you paid just £8 for a single game you wanted to watch. Now, you have to pay around £120 a year for 2nd rate games (on setenta), it's cheaper to go to the pub to watch those games. Now they have even less, hardly anyone will bother signing up.

    I think that we need to create a premier league channel (sky should run it as well, their programming is light years beyond the rivals, only the BEEB come close), and they should combine free news, but either a year fee or PPV option matches. It'll make a killing.

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  • 47. At 09:21am on 10 Jun 2009, Clartmaster wrote:

    #29 - 3ptkilla

    I'm sorry but what?? Have you EVER watched football on ITV? It is the one thing worse than Setanta, they should be banned from broadcasting sport, or anything else for that matter. Katie and Peter anyone?

    I would happily pay for Setanta if it meant that ITV stopped broadcasting altogether!

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  • 48. At 09:22am on 10 Jun 2009, rob wrote:

    i don't really understand the 'fair competition' ruling and why Sky had to give up a package of matches to Setanta in the first place.

    What happened with these two broadcasters has not brought about any 'competition'... clearly whoever brought in this ruling doesn't know what competition is. Sky and Setanta are not competing for the same viewers. At no time whatsoever do both of them show the same games at the same time. It could only be deemed competition if they both showed a substantial amount of the SAME games thereby giving viewers CHOICE about who they wanted to watch it with and subscribe to. Only then would we get two companies trying to actually win viewers.

    At the moment, it's still just a case of how much money an invididual wants to spend to watch football on TV.

    Lots of money = get both
    Quite a lot = get Sky
    Not a lot = Get setanta
    Nothing = get neither

    A better solution would be to keep the football matches broken up into packages but then just let broadcasters pay for any of the packages regardless of how many already have paid for that package.

    That would allow Sky to still take most of the matches, but would also give the possibility of 3 or 4 other broadcasters picking the same packages of desirable matches that Sky have, and then we could finally get some choice about who we subscribed with and paid our money to.

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  • 49. At 09:22am on 10 Jun 2009, joffonon wrote:

    Post 18: "thanks to the EU demand that competition had to exist (even when artificially created), subscribers ended up paying more money than when Sky had a monopoly. As far as I am concerned, it is good riddance to bad rubbish."

    Nail hit on hid by mightystags. The European Commission looked at this in terms of pure competition theory (one provider = bad, two or more = good) without focussing on the end result, namely the effect on the consumer wishing to see all the live Premier League games available would have to take out two subs instead of one. Had the Commission insisted that one package be sold to a free-to-air channel, rather than "anyone but Sky", then the consumer would not have lost out.

    The other point is that Setanta technically just wasn't up to it. I haven't seen it personally - I refuse to pay beyond my Sky package - but by all accounts Setanta's picture quality didn't even reach the less-than-lofty standards of ITV1's digital channel. At a time when every Premier League game on Sky is broadcast in high definition, the difference is a yawning chasm.

    "I seriously dont know why Sky and Setanta didnt work together when bidding for premier league right they could have each save a fortune."

    Because that would have probably been illegal under competition law! It also would have been a pretty pointless rights auction if the bidders were allowed to collude.

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  • 50. At 09:25am on 10 Jun 2009, jovialStelladave wrote:

    Post No 33 was abslutely spot on. Sky has killed sport in this country as there is now only a minority viewing access. Once you shake hands with the Devil........??

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  • 51. At 09:25am on 10 Jun 2009, pidgeGULL wrote:

    The Blue Square will suffer, badly.

    But the FA needs to ensure that England matches stay off of subscription channels.

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  • 52. At 09:38am on 10 Jun 2009, The-Shed-Bar wrote:

    Begin one of the very unlucky 2% of the population who cant received Sky (in my case, trees prohibit the line of sight required for the dish) I really hope that whoever gets the Setanta package (assuming that happens) will provide a similar service - we get Freeview without any problem and I subscribed to Setanta purely for the live football - please, whoever gets it - provide us Freeviewers with the same!!

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  • 53. At 09:48am on 10 Jun 2009, Andy wrote:

    I for one am delighted to see the downfall of Setanta. While I believe their idea was in principle a good one, the execution of the idea was a disaster. They truly have the worst customer relations of any company I have ever dealt with. Every staff member I was forced to deal with was incompetent and I feel this is all that they deserved for their lack of respect for their viewing public.

    In comparison, the "Evil" SKY during the same time period have been very good, providing me with free viewing equipment to replace my fauly equipment.

    Though SKY are more expensive, the quality of customer care and high standard of their football coverage more than justifies the price

    Good riddance to Setanta.

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  • 54. At 09:57am on 10 Jun 2009, vertigo_timbo wrote:

    Assuming Setanta is either dead in the water which is most likely or at least won't bid anywhere near as much as it has, I therefore conclude Sky will again get all the tv rights and at a cheaper market.

    Is this the start of the footbally bubble bursting.

    Forget about players wages with Livepool and United be able to survive as both clubs are heavily in debt. United actually make a loss each year if you take into consideration the interest on the debts while the debt isn't actually paid off.

    Livepool may just be in more trouble although they're debt is less than United's they still have no new footie ground and they're refinancing their present debt. Based on decreased revenues that's not going to go well.

    As a United fan be interesting to hear what Fergie has to say about the Glazers if they force a sale of Ronaldo?!?

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  • 55. At 10:01am on 10 Jun 2009, whu1985 wrote:

    Good article. Although it basically comes down too the fact the majority of viewers were not prepared to pay for a 2nd subsciption. Santanta should have learned from sky's pay per view football failure a couple of years back. I think it could be a positive for fottball viewers now there is only one in the market

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  • 56. At 10:03am on 10 Jun 2009, smileyliverpoolfan3 wrote:

    A major point on the demise of Sentanta was that you could get all their games free online on any of those live football streaming sites.

    I would like to see the BBC pick a few matches to air, Not a substantial amount, maybee a few premier league and right to national matches.

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  • 57. At 10:11am on 10 Jun 2009, bow4fowler wrote:

    Fantastic news they are failing. Serves them write for monopolising the market, and preventing the public from watching their own national team. Good ridance.

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  • 58. At 10:11am on 10 Jun 2009, stuckathome wrote:

    a very intersting debate. And despite all the points raised everyone seems t have missed the most important:

    Has Mihir Bose used the word "Pyrrhic" for the first time ever on any BBC platform?

    Joking aside, Setanta were always going to go the way of ITV digital and for the same reasons. People will not pay additional fees for the second rate stuff.

    While Setanta had the US golf, they did not have the crown jewels in the 4 majors and the WGC events.

    While they had Boxing, they did not have Hatton.

    While they have motor racing, they don't have F1.

    And while they had football they had Stoke V Fulham while Sky had Man U v Liverpool.

    That is why they failed. If you are going to do it, you need the BIG stuff and they played in the margins.

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  • 59. At 10:17am on 10 Jun 2009, lfcrule1972 wrote:

    I won't mourn the loss of Setanta, as a family we pay for Sky Sports and much prefer the professional output. We paid for Setanta for just over one year and were surprised at the difference in quality of their live commentary and their pundits.

    Initially I cancelled after the first year and was then offered a special offer; signing up to a special deal on monthly charges we soon discovered that we were paying full whack and the Setanta customer services were a joke. No one could help with my complaint and I was promised a call back from their accounts dept at least three times - these calls never happened and in the end I cancelled the direct debit.

    To me Setanta tried in vain to mix it with Sky, they snapped up England away game viewing rights in the hope that viewers would take up subscriptions - instead people refused and the England fans lost out as result.

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  • 60. At 10:18am on 10 Jun 2009, Faz wrote:

    Mihir, I couldn't help but notice the lager on the bar in your film, in this current climate I sincerely hope there won't be an expenses claim going in for that !

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  • 61. At 10:30am on 10 Jun 2009, sixtyandangry wrote:

    The EU argument about competition seems to me to be flawed. Competition in trade implies alternative suppliers for the same or similar products/services. Therefore, competition in pay-tv sport would only be served by all broadcasters having access to the same content, and then they would compete in terms of quality of presentation and, most importantly, price. Perhaps the EU should look more closely at the way TV rights are packaged and sold. This could have the dual effect of reducing the obscene amounts of money paid into professional sport (particularly football) and reducing prices to the the customer, both of which would be beneficial. Just my £0.02 worth...

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  • 62. At 10:33am on 10 Jun 2009, bluetrimmtrab wrote:

    I think the biggest challenge to Sky will come not from rival broadcasters but from the pirate streaming sites, their quality will improve and I would not be suprised to see decreasing subscriptions in the same way that falling music and film sales can be attributed to P2P sites

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  • 63. At 10:46am on 10 Jun 2009, bexsy1863 wrote:

    i think its a shame as we need competition against sky but i thought they had to much time and airplay for man utd and liverpool forgetting that other fans would not sign up. i was signed up but my team stoke got on once low and behold against liverpool, it was at home and i am a season ticket holder. so i cancelled. i used to love the steve claridge phone in but during the ipl it kept going across to that, when it was a football show. but i feel sorry for the scottish, english lower and none league football clubs as they have not got the money to lose in this current climate. i saw more teams through europe which i would never see on sky. sky has built up its views over 20 years setanta needed more time. good luck to all the teams that are going to feel hardship with the exception of the top four who i feel are to blame.

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  • 64. At 10:57am on 10 Jun 2009, Dr_Bean wrote:

    Sky is much more polished than Setanta - and they show all their Premier League matches in HD. For the true football fan Sky is the only option!

    I read somewhere that if Setanta go under then ITV have to take all of its FA Cup matches and England away qualifiers at a knock-down price? I'm not a big fan of ITV football coverage but at least us non-Setanta subscribers will be able to see the games.

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  • 65. At 10:58am on 10 Jun 2009, InfoholicUK wrote:

    But while we in Britain are happy to pay a monthly fee to a satellite broadcaster, we do not like taking our credit cards out for individual sports events. This is in stark contrast to America. Now nobody talks about armchair pay-per-view tickets for football in the UK.

    No Mihir. People in Britain do not like paying for individual events ON TOP OF a monthly subscription. That's why it has never taken off here.

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  • 66. At 10:59am on 10 Jun 2009, huytonbaddy wrote:

    you really are an excuse for a sports journalist, you have absolutely no credibility to comment on sport as you have no idea what you are rambling on about.
    how you have achieved the lofty title you hold is beyond me and many others, get off your opinionated high horse and go and do something that keeps you away from pontificating about things you know nothing about.

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  • 67. At 11:03am on 10 Jun 2009, ShelfsideN17 wrote:

    The one organisation that does not seem to be getting too much of a mention but needs to share a lot of the blame here is the FA. The EC ruled that Sky could not hold all the packages under competition rules and in steps Setanta. This now put the fans in the position of having to pay twice for one product. The FA could have given the rights to the BBC or ITV but greed won the day. Unfortunately for them they underestimated how hacked off football fans were becoming, borne out when the majority of Sky subscribers refused to subscribe to Setanta as well.
    So who at the FA was responsible for looking at Setanta;s business model?

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  • 68. At 11:05am on 10 Jun 2009, jackreacher7 wrote:

    I cant believe people are having a go at Sky/Setanta subscription fees, which everyone has a CHOICE to pay. What about the BBC licence fee which you HAVE to pay to watch TV? Even if you watch no terrestrial TV (I have no TV aerial)you still have to pay it to watch rubbish.

    As for Setanta, their coverage of the football was terrible. And hopefull this 'collapse' takes the SPL with it, and football in Scotland can actually return to some kind of normallity, rather than the farce it is now

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  • 69. At 11:19am on 10 Jun 2009, Vim.Fuego wrote:

    Setanta is free with my BT Vision package and was also free when I had Top Up TV.
    If Setanta do fold there will be no sports channel available on freeview thereby allowing Sky to resume their monopoly. I refuse to sign up to Sky as what thay offer as a broadcaster is over priced and sports aside,generally rubbish.(I'm not including The Simpsons in this)
    I also refuse to put money in the pockets of the Murdoch family.A certain M Thatcher is to blame for all this because the Tories changed the ruling allowing newspaper owners to move into broadcasting letting them gain a stranglehold on the media.

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  • 70. At 11:26am on 10 Jun 2009, ukultraman wrote:

    Setanta wasn't perfect but instead of getting worked up about the EPL as a football fan i will miss the German,Dutch, French and South American football - it was a pleasant change in insular Britain to see live football from a variety of countries.

    Also i enjoyed their Aussie Rugby League and Steve Bunce's Boxing show. It appears they have over reached themselves and that will be sad for those who lose jobs and for sports fans who can see further than Wigan v Stoke.

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  • 71. At 11:42am on 10 Jun 2009, chriskillz wrote:

    I dont have sky or any other pay tv deal and i am not interested in paying anymore than the lisence fee to watch tv, so from my point of view all setanta did was make it so i couldnt watch competive england games live (and for a couple of games couldnt watch it at all). If this company goes bust and if all the england games end up on free to air tv ill be happy.
    I blame the FA for this what were they doing selling england rights to a tv channel no one watches, especially after england failed to qualify for the euro's.
    Lets just say qualification went down to the final game wouldnt it affect the players confidence if they knew hardly anyone was watching the game live.

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  • 72. At 11:49am on 10 Jun 2009, AlGreko wrote:

    I understand the need for competition, but all setanta meant to me was having to pay twice to watch premier league football and other sports. From the consumer's point of view, how is that fair?

    If the European Comission was to do anything then it should force Sky into allowing Sky Sports to be available to freeview users, as setanta is now.

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  • 73. At 11:55am on 10 Jun 2009, Gooner Broxi wrote:

    Good article Mr Bose. I'm quick to criticise when your articles merely state the obvious, but you offered genuine insight to the story.

    Sad to see Setanta's demise, as at least they offered an option other than Sky, but the flip side of this was an extra £10 a month on top of the sky subscription, and as the other posters have commented, bottom of the barrel EPL games, 2nd rate boxers, US golf tournaments with red-neck golfers, and a 6-week twenty20 tourney wasn't enough to justify it for the majority of folk.

    The only thing that kept me interested (and what I thought would save the day for Setanta) was the SPL deal i.e. Old Firm coverage. i thought the sheer number of Rangers and Celtic fans in the UK would boost the average but the ease of watching games in pubs and the quality on offer from the Old Firm probably dented this theory.

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  • 74. At 12:01pm on 10 Jun 2009, duffy wrote:

    I'm still unsure why there is no market for pay per match. Much like the Yanks.

    I understand a package deal is nice & easy, but if the competition increases then people will start getting even more frustrated.

    When those of use who can't afford Sky sports & Setanta can have the opportunity to pick what games & when then surely that must be the consumers' first choice.

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  • 75. At 12:03pm on 10 Jun 2009, Vim.Fuego wrote:

    Chriskillz
    Prior to the current deal showing England games live
    Sky and the BBC had the rights to Englands World Cup and Euro qualifiers
    so the fact that ITV and Setanta now show them makes no difference if you don't subscribe

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  • 76. At 12:03pm on 10 Jun 2009, Simon wrote:

    I was a Setanta subscriber for around 2 years until I withdrew my subscription in March of this year.
    It made little sense for me to maintain my subscription going into the summer months due to lack of football amongst other things. I wasn't watching any of the Premiership football on a Saturday evening as it was dinner time and then bath/bed time for my kids. At most we would watch a midweek game when Cambridge were playing but that was about it for football. UFC was a bonus but I don't miss it....
    When I signed up it was on the agreement of it being a month to month contract - you could sign up, drop it at any point and then sign up again without any complications.
    When I cancelled their customer services team tried to convince me to stay on with an offer of "only £11.99 per month if you take up a 12 month contract"..... Hmmmmm.... then they tried to convince me by referencing the England games, the pre-season friendlies etc. Again, not enough to make me re-subscribe.

    Do I miss it?!? Not in the slightest.
    Sure, you get ESPN Europe (formerly NASN) showing the Baseball and Ice-Hockey as part of the package, but again games are in the middle of the night when I'm sleeping!

    Oh and do they need everything to be yellow?!?!?!

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  • 77. At 12:05pm on 10 Jun 2009, Simon wrote:

    Another nail in the coffin for Setanta will be the fact that most football matches can be viewed online for free if you use the right websites...... As followers of Cambridge United, we cancelled our subscription before they made it to the Conference play-offs etc.
    Instead of re-subscribing we watched the games online for free!

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  • 78. At 12:08pm on 10 Jun 2009, Mr Maff wrote:

    Could the BBC step in and buy the broadcast rights to the Premier League next season?
    Football on BBC-HD would be great!

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  • 79. At 12:40pm on 10 Jun 2009, ccfcjayjay wrote:

    45. At 09:15am on 10 Jun 2009, wartek wrote:
    As was pointed out in a few posts, I cannot understand the reasoning behind the EU and anti monopoly. Granted the viewer has a choice of what channel to watch his (or hers) football on but again as was pointed out, we have to pay twice. So the only loser being the viewer and the only winners the clubs.


    ..................


    I keep hearing comments like this, but surely Setanta took the rights to the EPL games that Sky showed on there PPV?! So you already had to subscribe twice before to watch all EPL games, albeit subscribe twice to the same company. So before you had to pay £100 a season for the ppv season ticket, or £7 a game. Now its £10 a month for Setanta. So even if you subscribe all year to Setanta its £120, only £20 more than before, and you get a hell of a lot more sport to watch for that price. And even if you just want to watch EPL games and nothing else, you could just subscribe in august and cancel at the end of may and pay the same amount as the PPV on Sky. When you look at things like that, Setanta seems like a bit of a bargain to me. I think its a shame they might go bust, lets just hope if they do their EPL coverage doesn't go to ITV!

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  • 80. At 12:43pm on 10 Jun 2009, chriskillz wrote:

    Vim.Fuego

    Thankyou for correcting me.

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  • 81. At 12:45pm on 10 Jun 2009, Spinning_head wrote:

    PrinceDignam, message 35, rightly pointed out Setanta's origins. By taking on Sky they 'upped' the price they charged pubs and clubs thereby forcing a lot of them to drop Setanta and take Sky instead.

    As an expat Irishman I should be sad that Setanta might go under. However, considering that they've abandoned their original audience, I'm not going to shed a tear for them.

    Badly done Setanta, very badly done.

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  • 82. At 12:47pm on 10 Jun 2009, Antichthon wrote:

    We have Sky Sports which is already expensive enough, thanks - we were never going to pay more for Setanta (or anyone else). As it happens, I also have little interest in Premiership football and resent the fact that a large proportion of my Sky Sports sub goes to ridiculously financed Premier League clubs.

    What do I watch on Sky: International Football, Champions League, Cricket, Rugby Union, Tennis + cycling and some other minor sports on Eurosport. Given the opportunity, I would have watched England internationals and the IPL on Setanta, so obviously I hope these now go to Sky or Free-to-View.

    Clearly there's a danger that Sky will try to up its own subs now, but I don't think they'll get away with much in a recession. Not with me anyway.

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  • 83. At 12:57pm on 10 Jun 2009, Nick wrote:

    I'm surprised to read of all this talk of Setanta being a good deal as oppose to Sky.
    Last time i looked Setanta was £12.95 a month for a sports only channel showing a maximum 46 PL games.
    Sky on the other hand costs me £45 for everything and 90 odd PL games.

    Theres is just no comparison. I used to have Setanta but cancelled and just watch their games down the pub.

    They have written to me this week offering the rate of £3.99/month for June , July and August without the registration fee.
    If the Haye fight hadnt been cancelled i may have taken them up on the offer as it works out less than Skys 15.99 PPV rip off but im not paying that money for the Charity Shield!

    It was always going to be difficult for Setanta because in effect we were having to pay over a tenner more for football matches that we could have seen on Sky without shelling out the extra.

    I dont see the problem with Sky having it all anyway. They were brave enough to take a very expensive (at the time) punt at it initially and are now reaping the rewards.

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  • 84. At 1:12pm on 10 Jun 2009, james wrote:

    People complain about poor grass-roots football and a lack of young players. the problem is young kids need role models to inspire them to play football and give them something to copy. with sky and setanta, not everyone gets to watch premier league matches and i think that they should be available for everyone to see on the bbc oir itv, although that will never happen. If that were to happen, kids around england would be able to watch premier league games every weekend and would be inspired to play the game

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  • 85. At 1:13pm on 10 Jun 2009, animal_actuary wrote:

    Setanta deserve to go down the tubes - their customer service is a disgrace. I signed up purely to watch a Calzaghe fight (v Kessler I think) and they continued to charge a monthly subscription. Whenever I rang them to get the service cancelled, they hung up as soon as the word "cancel" was mentioned. I eventually managed to get through to a manager to complain, who assured me that this would be taken care of the service cancelled. Needless to say the monthly subscription charges kept coming through, I had to cancel my direct debit via the bank and then Setanta kicked up a massive fuss, claiming that this was the first they had heard of it and that I was not entitled to cancel my subscription without informing them. Bunch of losers.........

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  • 86. At 1:35pm on 10 Jun 2009, canadakillie wrote:

    As a Kilmarnock season ticket holder I subscribed to Setanta to be able to catch some of my teams away games. By the end of the season Kilmarnock had 2 away games broadcast. Rangers and Celtic by contrast had 19 away games each broadcast. This automatically alienates the 50% of Scottish football supporters who dont follow the old firm. Furthermore several games this year were broadcast in the rain which resulted in steamed up cameras and the same tap tap sound we used to here on Pro-Celebrity Golf in the 1970s.

    An absolute shower of amateurs that want a subscription fee then deliver nothing in return.

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  • 87. At 1:38pm on 10 Jun 2009, Westdrop wrote:

    to all those who say that Setanta was good because it covered varied sports, like UFC: UFC is not a sport - it is licenced thuggery where the aim of the game is to beat the living hell out of someone by virtually any means possible.

    Personally I'm glad that any channel that thinks UFC is worthwhile television has got its comeuppance

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  • 88. At 1:43pm on 10 Jun 2009, The Realist wrote:

    The flaw was not so much with Setanta but the Premier League's refusal to allow a level playing field. I have never been a fan of this "for profit only" packaging, where only the richest TV Company can buy the matches that allow a TV Broadcaster to make some profit.

    Setanta would have been a success if Sky did not have a monopoly on all the major Premier League games, for instance if Sky and Setanta had equal share of the Man Utd - Arsena, Chelsea - Liverpool games the level of competition between the Pay TV Services would make life much easier for the viewers, however the Premier League is not interested in that.

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  • 89. At 1:50pm on 10 Jun 2009, superstarDJ-MarcusMcGee wrote:

    Nice one. It's great that Setanta is going under! FANTASTIC

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  • 90. At 2:00pm on 10 Jun 2009, BasilJuice wrote:

    Arguably Setanta had the balance right this year, for football at least: FA Cup matches (esp. big name replays), England away games and a reasonable smattering of Premier League matches. But as the subscription price drifted north of £10, it became harder to justify the investment -- and surely no English football fan (save for Prem completists) would pay for Setanta in 2010/11 when the coverage dropped to just 23 games.

    The irony in all this is that the European Commission mandated the break-up of Sky's monopoly on live football, but we simply got another subscription channel with wild ambitions rather than live matches on free-to-air. The regulators and the free-to-air networks have to get their heads together now and figure out how to transfer Setanta's content -- which is still dwarfed by Sky's offerings -- onto ITV or the BBC. Given that ITV are about to get a reduced slate of Champions League matches, and the BBC would face political pressure if it bid anything like the numbers that Setanta has, the prospects aren't great. But it's a national scandal that we can't get approx 1/3 of the live coverage onto a terrestrial broadcaster. It may be impossible to prevent Murdoch from creaming off the biggest matches, but what about the remnant that European law insists shouldn't go to Sky?

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  • 91. At 2:31pm on 10 Jun 2009, Adam wrote:

    I had Setanta. I no longer have it. Why? Non-existent customer service. Service disruptions during games, and 15.99 a month for a couple of games a week plus NASCAR and rodeo bull stuff is exorbitant.

    I hope they go to the wall. They deserve it.

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  • 92. At 2:50pm on 10 Jun 2009, Nick wrote:

    I can't see how you can say Setanta were copying Sky Mihir!! Sky was not just a sports broadcaster, it was also a provider for other channels via it's satellite service therefore gaining other revenue. I am amazed at how little research you actually do!!

    As people have said before Setanta's commentary and half time panel on most of the football was biased to one team or another and just very poor. I don't subscribe to either as I will watch it online for free with broadband or I will go down to the pub if a game I like is on and watch it there. It might cost a bit more that way as I meet up with friends but it's more entertaining with the banter.

    Surely the Directors at Setanta knew they were only getting the smaller games that would also not sell out the pubs or bring in the advertising revenue they would need to succeed and then they tried to hold the country to ransom be not agreeing with either the BBC or ITV to show the England highlights as they thought the price was not right. It seems Setanta had a lot of varied sports that they showed but they tried to get too greedy too quickly. I won't miss them if they go under.

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  • 93. At 2:52pm on 10 Jun 2009, neal82 wrote:

    We should be greatful to Setanta for at least trying to compete with SkySports it gave those of us who refuse to give Murdoch any money the chance to watch some football.

    You can't blame the EU for the problem either by trying to break the monopoly they propbably assumed that one of the five terestrial channels would have recieved the additional package.

    Perhaps the Premier league should have done what the Banks did and wrap up each package such that each contianed good games and bad games.

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  • 94. At 3:10pm on 10 Jun 2009, Medieval-Evil wrote:

    The funny thing is, these competitiveness guidelines have actually delivered the average consumer less, as people have been unwilling to pay the extra cash to get games they probably would have seen previously on their existing Sky subscription.

    As Mihir points out, Sky's rise was meteoric, but they were trailblazers who mixed a healthy caution with their opportunism. Setanta tried taking their bites too quickly and at a less favourable moment in time.

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  • 95. At 3:25pm on 10 Jun 2009, Adam wrote:

    'I can't see how you can say Setanta were copying Sky Mihir!! Sky was not just a sports broadcaster, it was also a provider for other channels via it's satellite service therefore gaining other revenue. I am amazed at how little research you actually do!!'

    Evidently more than you. The sports channels are Sky's flagship, enabling them to deliver other content cheaply, just like Setanta led with Premiership football and put other sports in the mix. They did so using a subscription service. Sky's main revenue stream is football. Without it there would be no Sky TV, Setanta's main revenue stream is football, the rest is secondary to that.

    Probably best not to try to show up a sports journalist when anyone possessing the ability to use Google can comprehensively debunk you.

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  • 96. At 3:35pm on 10 Jun 2009, Celtic_Bil wrote:

    Does anybody else sense that Mr Branson may be waiting in the wings with a rescue package and the birth of 'Virgin Sports'?
    After all Virgin Media added Setanta sports free of charge to their XL TV package when they lost Sky One etc. Losing Setanta would not be good news for them!

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  • 97. At 4:13pm on 10 Jun 2009, Nick wrote:

    meekychuppet, Sky didn't just start off with a sports channel but started with all kinds of content then merged with their competitor to become bksyb. They controlled everything from the box to the dish to the programs allowed to be viewed through their box. The Alan Sugar thing was obvious because he was making the sky boxes or dishes that Sky were using for installations.

    I am not a journalist or researcher and I never said the sports package wasn't their flagship. But nothing about this blog was new to me and I would have thought there should have been content. It is as always well written though.

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  • 98. At 5:09pm on 10 Jun 2009, kendosteel81 wrote:

    Content is key when asking people to fork out a monthly subscription. For me, sky sports is not worth having during the summer. A selection of bowls, fishing, cricket and yachting does not encourage me to part with my hard earned cash. Setanta have a more interesting array of sports but perhaps only cater for a small amount of fans (UFS falls nicely into the catagory) and it is probably this that has been it's major downfall. Their premierleague games may not have been the big games of the season but there are other leagues to watch (Scotland/Germany/France/Holland....) so football was very well represented. I for one will be sorry to see Setanta go if that's what the future holds.

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  • 99. At 5:10pm on 10 Jun 2009, Mike Mullen wrote:

    97. At 4:13pm on 10 Jun 2009, Nick_Hove_Actually wrote:


    I am not a journalist or researcher and I never said the sports package wasn't their flagship. But nothing about this blog was new to me and I would have thought there should have been content. It is as always well written though.

    ------------------------------------------

    Nice for you that you already knew all this but what about everyone else who didn't know all the ins and outs of the Sky Setanta situation.
    As to the actual football the Fa, SFA, et al should be barred from selling games featuring the national teams to satellite/cable channels. These are public bodies receiving public money and they should act in the public interest. As to the PL there is no point in dividing up the games between mulitple broadcasters, there is no real competition when there is only one product.

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  • 100. At 5:24pm on 10 Jun 2009, backinwhite wrote:

    Without Setanta as competition, SKY will be able to offer hugely reduced bids to renew their deal next time.

    This will mean they will be able to reduce / maintain their subscription rates, so expanding their reach.

    It will also mean the collapse of the obscene wages paid to mediocre players in the EPL & SPL by small clubs, and may just concentrate their minds on developing local talent.

    So you could argue that lack of EU enforced competition is good for the consumer and good for domestic football.

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  • 101. At 5:26pm on 10 Jun 2009, Tiree_Don wrote:

    I'll be sad to see Setanta go under, their coverage of the SPL wasn't great to begin with, but they started to get the hang of it soon.

    For the price per month, its not bad, the American sport channels I enjoy as a baseball and basketball follower.

    If/when they go under, or are forced to sell rights, I'd like to see BBC Scotland/Alba go for the SPL and Scottish International rights. Really need to get these games back on mainstream TV (I'd include sky as mainstream as most people have/subscribe to it nowadays), not enough kids growing up watching Scottish teams week in, week out, and instead supporting Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Terrestrial viewers in Scotland can't even get a decent highlights service, Monday night at 10.30pm, average time per game - about 3 mins, if your lucky, and most people have already seen the goals.

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  • 102. At 6:29pm on 10 Jun 2009, SportsFan21 wrote:

    An interesting take on things as always Mihir, a few of my own thoughts:

    I am a sky and setanta subscriber, both are poor at customer services but then who isn't these days?

    Despite repeated calls from the the OFT and other watchdogs the government has failed to get to grips with SKYs monopoly - SKY makes a lot of its money from Pub subsciptions which are based on each individual pub's rateable value (same as is used to calculate business rates), pub landlords know that if they don't have the footy or cricket or rugby etc that some punters will go elsewhere and their business will suffer.

    How the majority of Premier League games appear on SKY and the cricket also? How can SKY afford to pay such huge sums for the rights? Its a classic monopolistic market, Setanta Sports even has to pay fees to appear on SKYs platform and EPG never mind paying for rights, SKY makes no effort to make its sports coverage appear in a "cheaper" form on Freeview because its business model doesn't stack up without anti-competetive practices - at least Setanta gave them something to think about with its £9.99 subscription which doesn't tie you into a scandalous 12/18 month contract etc etc.

    The EU ruling was supposed to stop SKY getting more than 4 of the 6 Premier League rights packages available but from next year they have got 5! What on earth is happening here - we should be mourning the loss of Setanta whose imminent demise shows how much power SKY really has, but at least the Irishmen had the bravery to try and give some alternative content like SPL, Euro Football, Boxing, MMA, THe IPL, Golf etc, because they were priced out of bidding for England Cricket Matches and other rights packages.

    The comment above about how 20% of the Premier League Matches gets the most viewers is entirely valid, all these large rights deals do is increase players, agents and club officials wages which is why the Premier League is paying the highest wages in Europe when compared to a few years ago.

    Murdock knows that if he offered a "sports only" package that a lot of people would go for this but they deliberately dont because the £50+ per month subscriptions subsidise the other parts of their business such as, programmme making and purchasing foreign shows like 24, lost, etc.

    If we agree that footy & cricket are our national games then we should be able to see some live games for free - otherwise we are teaching future generations that sport and alcohol always go together and that watching sport at home with ones family is passe (unless you are lucky enough to have SKY). What future for the England cricket team if kids can't watch on TV?

    Come on UK Government, give us a cheap sky sports channel for £9.99 per month, after all, we are switching off the analogue soon and virtually everyone will have freeview/freesat so theres a 60 million target audience straight away, if ITV or someone can't do the sums and make it add up then they shouldn't be in broadcasting.

    Lets break up this odious monopoly into different types of content and a simpler business model to encourage more like Setanta.

    Phew *Shakes head in disgust*

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  • 103. At 7:49pm on 10 Jun 2009, jer1956 wrote:

    Most people don't want subscription TV. The vast majority who are willing to pay to watch sport already have SKY Sports. Satanta where going to find it hard to pursuade those who didn't have Sky Sports becuase they didn't want subscription TV to see paying for them a good alternative. That meant hoping those who where already happy to have subscription TV paying for Satanta as well as SKY Sports. Not a good plan.

    I do think it shows up the whole problem with Media Rights. In most other areas of commerce competition is meant to drive prices down for customers. In media rights it's all about driving prices up for customers.

    The EU is also to blame. Their origonal idea was to get some soccer on FTV TV. Instead of getting "free" soccer they made it more expensive!

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  • 104. At 8:15pm on 10 Jun 2009, Stevie357 wrote:

    RE #87: UFC and MMA in general is proven to be safer than boxing - in MMA's history, there has only been one death at a high level of competition, and that was due to a faulty cage.

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  • 105. At 8:40pm on 10 Jun 2009, 25thirishexile wrote:

    I enjoy having Setanta as it allows me to watch the Magners League so I can see my beloved Ulster do their best and see UFC and Steve Bunce helping with the Boxing. the Footie Show that covers Australian football brings humour and helps me understand what my family over there actually find interesting about the sport. Whatever happens I know I won't be paying too much for their packages when I can go to a pub.

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  • 106. At 8:48pm on 10 Jun 2009, karolitosway wrote:

    I agree that Setanta has made some terrible errors when bidding for the PL,and the pundits are pants but the station have been a god-send for some fan of lesser supported sports. The SPL,Magners League rugby, IPLC,Blue-square, and the Irish sports being broadcast being a case in point. I know that some people will argue that they will not get reasonable viewing figures, but neither will the Volvo boat race,extreme sports and similar programmes shown on Sky sports 3!

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  • 107. At 00:50am on 11 Jun 2009, syefee wrote:

    I for one shall miss Setanta if they cease broadcasting. I signed up with them in December 2007, and to be honest, I have been very satisfied with their coverage of sports. I suppose that this has been helped by the fact that I do not follow a premier league side, therefore I find even the less box office clashes quite entertaining. Highlights for me as a subscriber have included the EPL, SPL, IPL, American sports, European football league coverage, and boxing, including the inimitable Buncie!

    In addition to the above, I am aware of the criticism that has been levelled at Setanta about not having the same standard of professionalism as Sky, but I have found their coverage to be less pompous and sniffy than Sky's. Ultimately, I ended up subscribing to both as I couldn't bear to let Setanta go, but (resentfully)needed Sky for their excellent cricket coverage (of course home test matches should be on terrestrial TV but that's another story!).

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  • 108. At 10:13am on 11 Jun 2009, MikeTheDocker wrote:

    Good reporting on Setanta, assuming that it is just a matter of hours / days before they collapse, we need to move on and I would like to know if Sky won't bail them out who will? And more importantly who will replace Setanta?

    It has been reported that ESPN may want to break into the European sports TV market. If this is true I can forsee a whole new problem with them. Having viewed this channel in USA, all I can say is be prepared to be bombarded with ad after ad after ad.
    Their US business model is so reliant on advertising and every corner of the screen tends to have some ad on it!

    Please, please, please will someone have a look at this. I understand that one of the big failings of Setanta was lack of subscibers. How many will ESPN get if they lauch? and how many will stay with them once they start broadcasting sport in between the ads!

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  • 109. At 11:40am on 11 Jun 2009, hackerjack wrote:

    Setanta's one and only mistake was to try and compete with Sky.

    The acquiring of two packages from the premier league was a costly and needless mistake. They could have bid far less, got one package and had the same generous publicity, they would probably also have for at least 2/3 of the subscribers for what would have been less than half the cost. It would also have left them pretty much certain to be able to retain the same package next time around, there would not have been the rapid loss of confidence in them due to the loss of one package because it would not have been there to lose.

    One EPL package plus concentrating on sports that other channels seam to have forgotten (boxing, racing etc.) would have been a much surer bet. Gettin into bed with the UFC and TNA wrestling (both on Bravo for heavens sake) would have also brought in plenty of subscribers as those markets tend not to overlap with their core ones too much.

    The pointless launch of the setanta sports news channel was another waste of money, Sky already do the job as well as anyone can do it, there is no exclusivity in news so it was always going to be a knockoff and not a cheap one either.

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  • 110. At 1:03pm on 11 Jun 2009, Bostondazzler wrote:

    At the end of the day, it's all about greed and the jewel in the crown that is Premiership Football! Whilst the European Commission ruling must have seemed like great news....it would seem the only ones to benefit initially was the Premier league with another foolhardy offer from a rival to Sky and snap the rights to ultimately second rate games. I was an ITV Digital subsciber as my team was in the 2nd Division - another example of people tyring to grab rights with no thought to sensible financial business decisions!

    I'm sure the Premier League rubbed their hands at an even greater sum of money being piled into the top tier whilst the other tiers struggle to complete. I do beleive that whislt the financial strength of the Premier League has helped English club football across Europe, it has been to the detriment of the lower tiers and ultimately the England side.

    Sadly money talks and until the Premier League realise that one day the bubble could well burst and they need to think longer term, the inevitability of a major club failing financially looms...

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  • 111. At 11:38am on 12 Jun 2009, TonyDwyer wrote:

    I'm sorry to see Setanta in trouble but I have to say that I'm not surprised. I subscribed to them when they offered 3 premier league games and a boxing match for £15 as a package. I cancelled my direct debit with them after they took the money as I didn't want them taking other moneys in error, only to be told that " I have to keep the direct debit in place for the whole duration of the offer". In the back of my mind I knew that there was a catch but like many others I just reinstated the direct debit.
    Not only did they take 2 other installments, it took me 3 phone calls and hours of hold time to get the money refunded and very poor customer service to. This was the reason I decided not to subscribe to Setanta again.

    Setanta took their eye off the ball and now they'er paying the price. ;0)

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  • 112. At 08:39am on 20 Jun 2009, Rob wrote:

    Mihir

    I think it would good if you could explain why Sky cannot own all the Premier League rights in England but Setanta can own all of the Scottish Premier League rights.

    Personally, I know the EU want "competition" but this always seems to cost the customer more!

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  • 113. At 6:57pm on 21 Jun 2009, JobyJak wrote:

    I have no sypmathy for Setanta whatsoever!

    I was a customer for 18 months and repeatedly told them their way of handling good loyal customers was despicable and I have never come across such incompetence. Because I liked their football and boxing, I stayed loyal, but my patience wore thin, when blunder after blunder and fake customer service promises just became too much, I even told them all this when I eventually cancelled my subscription, and the person on the other end said the customer service was crap, how do Setanta owners feel about this?

    This company failed for one simple reason and I saw it coming 2 years ago, they failed to look after their loyal existing customers and instead spent every ounce of effort in trying to get new business.

    Why should we sympathise with them, when their business model was so shoddy? They deserve everything they get.

    Trust me, I have worked in customer service for the biggest company in the world for the last 6 years, and when I tried to explain to Setanta staff where they were going wrong, they all agreed but said they were powerless to the shoddy infrastructure of the company. You had to write in for any complaint and it would take two months to deal with it, that was their "standard policy". No other major company I have dealt with has had such a shoddy policy in response to complaints. Listening to complaints is the only way you can move your business forward, the fact that Setanta tried to fob them off and weren't really willing to listen, has led them to the position they are currently in.

    This is the only company ever that I have actually taken pleasure in failing, from my own personal experience in dealing with them and trying to help them put it right, but just falling on deaf ears.

    You reap what you sow!

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  • 114. At 12:16pm on 22 Jun 2009, roylamour wrote:

    I personally think it is a credit to the public for holding back from creating another monster which cost viewers more money.
    When BSkyb lost exclusive rights to live prem football it was hailed as great for the consumer. Great that we had to pay more money to another company to watch football on a Monday night.
    We have learnt that if we refuse to be ripped off then these companies struggle and if BSkyb is regulated properly in terms of price etc then the consumer will be better off.
    Say no to pay per view events and they will soon be free with the advertiser paying for it......

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  • 115. At 10:01am on 08 Aug 2009, The-Pottter wrote:

    Setanta's demise is a very sad one. Indeed, as the article points out they were very naive to believe they could replicate what Sky have done, however their fall has added further weight to the notion that Sky have a firm stranglehold over our game. Our clubs have become so dependent on them due to their huge investment into televising the EPL. It really is a sad state of affairs and many more will follow the path of Leeds.
    Sheffield Vacancies

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