Wednesday 22 October 2014

BSkyB shares hit by loss of Champions League matches

Kate Holton and Keith Weir

Published 12/11/2013 | 01:00

Players from Bayern Munich with the European Cup

BSKYB saw more than £1.5bn (€1.7bn) wiped off its stock market value after Rupert Murdoch's pay-TV group was beaten at its own game with the loss of Champions League soccer rights.

Shares in the British group, which had previously seen off three major challengers to its dominance of the home movies and sports market, tumbled more than 10pc after it suffered its first major rights auction loss to once-staid telecoms company BT.

With annual revenue of more than £18bn and a market value of £29bn, BT is also in a completely different league to the three previous groups that had tried to challenge BSkyB - ITV Digital, Ireland's Setanta and ESPN.

The 168-year-old former state telecoms group agreed to pay £900m, or more than double the previous contract with BSkyB and ITV, to add mid-week ties featuring top European teams to the English Premier League matches it already shows.

For BSkyB, the loss raises the likelihood it will have to pay more for future content deals, including the next Premier League auction which is expected to be held in 2015.

VULNERABLE

It also leaves BSkyB suddenly looking vulnerable in a market it helped to build.

"It is hard to see how this does not signal a British crossing of the Rubicon and the end of peaceful co-existence in the UK telecom and TV worlds," analyst Robin Bienenstock at brokerage Bernstein said.

BT, which has spent years slashing costs and cutting staff after two profit warnings in 2008 and 2009, stunned the sporting world last year when it won the rights to show 38 live Premier League matches a season.

While the new entrant to the market remained a minnow in comparison to BSkyB and its 116 games, the move was an early indication of how BT was willing to spend big.

Sky, meanwhile, will keep the rights to Formula 1, golf and the Ashes.

The group, which has posted a near 130pc rise in earnings per share in the last four years, said Champions League soccer only made up 3pc of its total viewing on Sky Sports and said it would rather invest in a different range of programming than overpay for soccer.

"We are no longer the Sky of 20 years ago," a source at the company said. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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