The Football Association will today announce that ITV and Setanta has won the UK TV rights for four years of FA Cup and England matches for more than £400 million.
The expected announcement will deal a cruel blow to current TV rights owners Sky and BBC, especially the latter who is now left with only few leading live football matches to broadcast on television.
This is a massive coup for both ITV and Setanta. The ITV, who currently holds the TV rights to share coverage of the Champions League in England, will be able to put itself back on the football map. The channel had been renowned for its programme, The Big Match, which launched presenter Jimmy Hill’s career as well as featuring the legendary commentator Brian Moore.
Setanta, meanwhile, continues to be a force to be reckoned with after acquiring the package to broadcast 46 Premiership matches in the UK beginning in the 2007/2008 season.
The ITV/Setanta contract shouldn’t have an effect on the U.S.’s TV coverage since Fox Sports International owns the TV rights for the next two years Stateside.
For the BBC, meanwhile, this may mean the breakup of the legendary studio team of former players and now presenters/analysts Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson and Alan Shearer. You can be sure that ITV, Setanta and Sky will do everything they can to acquire some of these names that could add instant credibility.
The BBC is obviously handicapped by their inability to acquire advertising revenue to be competitive with companies such as Sky, Setanta and ITV. With its model of acquiring fees through license rights, it appears unlikely that the BBC will be able to compete in the future if the cost of TV rights keeps increasing to exorbitant amounts.
- In other news, UEFA is considering granting the winner of the FA Cup a berth in the Champions League beginning with the 2009/2010 season.