Monday, March 20, 2006

FIFA sells Asian and Oceania broadcast packages

Australia's government-owned, multilingual television network, SBS has snared an exclusive deal with football's governing body FIFA for control of Oceania region television rights - both free-to-air and pay TV and internet rights - for the next two World Cups (2010 in South Africa and 2014 expected to be staged in Latin America).

With Australia having transfered from Oceania to the Asian Football Confederation on 1 January this year, retaining Australia in the Oceania rights package appears to be an anomaly that might have slipped by Australia's three commercial networks and the Fox Sports cable system which all acknowledge the increasing value of the domestic A-league as well as international soccer.

In Australia, SBS televised the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups exclusively, and shared coverage of the 2002 Cup with the Nine Network. It is covering the upcoming tournament in Germany on its own. The arrangement allow SBS to sell the pay-TV rights. It was keen to capture the online rights because as SBS head of sport Les Murray told Michael Lynch of The Age, "the networks are looking to control cross-platform rights because the industry is moving so fast and you do not want to be caught not being able to exploit them".

SBS will sell-on rights to Oceania broadcasters although the revenue will be small; apart from New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, most are tiny Pacific islands.

Japanese advertising firm Dentsu Inc, partnering with Switzerland's Infront Sports & Media AG, also announced it had won control of Asian broadcasting rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and for all FIFA events between 2007 and 2014. The rights cover television, radio, broadband Internet and mobile telephony. According to Mainichi-MSN, Dentsu bought the Japanese rights for television, radio and internet broadcasting of the games during the period in March 2005 but the current venture extends those rights to all of Asia.

Dentsu did not say how much it paid for the rights, nor which countries the rights covered, but information available with Indiantelevision.com indicates that the consortium bid made by Dentsu and Infront, which was the incumbent, is estimated to be worth between $300-310 million. The 29-country deal covers the whole of Asia east of Iran and excluding Japan.

In terms of a value proposition, four countries that make up North Asia account for 55-60 percent of the bid amount. This includes China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. South and South East Asia would take up the remaining 40-45 percent of the bid value and include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Philippines and Singapore as major territories.

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