Just How Much Trouble Are Setanta In?

More news seems to be filtering through over the continued rumours that Setanta Sports are in financial difficulty here in the UK and are desperately trying to find some finance to help them through after they only won one of the six Premier League Packages for the next deal that starts in 2010. A desperate attempt at going to the Premier League, OFCOM and the European Commission arguing that bidding less for the Monday night packages than Sky and therefore not winning them is unfair. No really.

Yet here in UK, you’ve got take these stories with a pinch of salt, due to the massive media influence that Sky have, sharing an owner with two of the UK’s biggest Newspapers, The Sun and The Times. It wouldn’t take much co-ordination to orchestrate a collective campaign to create worrying speculation over Sky’s rival, yet it’s a story that has dogged them for a while and not just from Sky’s media bedfellows.

With a major investment in British football, with deals for both the English and Scottish Premierships, England matches and the F.A. Cup, Setanta is a major investor in the sport but is now apparently trying to re-negotiate it’s deal with the Scottish Premiership down from £125 million to £100 million. It’s also said to be in talks with the PGA to do the same with its American golf coverage.

Personally, I think it’s done a pretty good job for a new player in the game, though its roster of analysts and presenters could do with an overhaul. Steve McManaman is an unusual choice as the main pundit, Craig Burley a poor commentator. Yes, I have to pay £13 a month more for football, but I love football and not just from England.It gives me German, French, Portuguese, Scottish and Dutch football every week, its preseason friendly coverage is fantastic in its depth and breadth but it is a distant third for quality behind Sky and the undisputed kings, the BBC. I like watching football from all over Europe and Setanta gives me a choice I never had previously apart from the awful Eurogoals on dreadfully inept Eurosport.

One memorial episode featured no commentary for 25 minutes until the noise of someone rushing through the door, slamming it shut and breathing heavily for two minutes before beginning to speak will live long in the mind. Every week the commentator clearly hadn’t seen the footage and was flying by the seat of their pants. It never started on time, it was either early or late but never at the advertised time.It was easily the most infuriating football show on television.

The argument that Setanta feels unfairly done to though just doesn’t hold water. It misread the market and believed that with the last deal, the TV rights market had peaked. They were wrong and under bid by 20% of the deal they went with in 2007, Sky bid more and won it. They didn’t want the Saturday evening game rights as they consistently get the lowest figures of all football shown here in the UK on digital TV. Setanta went for them and won.

They made a massive error of judgement and already under subscribed by the 500,000 viewers it needs to reach it’s break even figure of 1.9 million subscribers, now faces a real prospect of people leaving their service. If Setanta do fail, the Premier League would lose around £159 million in revenue over a 3 year period, which would see each Premier League club lose around 2.7 million per season. It would be doubtful that the BBC or even ITV wouldn’t find the money from somewhere to come up with a suitable replacement.The FA on the other hand have a fallback position with ITV who will have to pay an extra £20 million for the England games if Setanta can’t show them. The FA Cup coverage is another matter.

My only experience of Setanta abroad is when I holidayed in the States and watched Sky’s coverage with Setanta logo on. So would we really miss them that much apart from James Richardson, Rebecca Lowe and Special One TV?

27 thoughts on “Just How Much Trouble Are Setanta In?”

    1. Don’t buy Setanta Broadband. It carries far less programming than Setanta Sports. I subscribed and continually see advertisements for upcoming events, including the Lions Tour and Super 14 rugby, neither of which they show on Setanta Broadband, due to “content rights”. I feel ripped off.

  1. This is a real shame. I do not like the idea of just having Fox Soccer Channel’s coverage of the Premier League. And I love the fact Setanta started showing the Russian Premier League here not to mention all the Ligue 1 matches, SPL and the odd Coca Cola Championship match. But the Setanta Xtra coverage is what I would miss the most. And Football Matters with Rebecca Lowe. I wonder if FSC would pick up some of the games that we would miss out on from Setanta. I would like to think they would. I am afraid the last few seasons have spoiled me. The next few months should be very interesting with the new tv deals coming. I’m hoping it will be good news….

  2. we’d miss it here in the US! setanta’s coverage puts FSC’s to shame, and having a full EPL and CL, as well as FA cup coverage down the drain, i don’t know if just FSC would be able to cover it. plus the idea of losing S1tv, thats criminal like.

  3. BTW…..what say the forum of the new Setanta-i
    The quality of the feed is much better…and having a dedicated feed to Setanta News is top notch….
    The biggest change to me is that we can now RECORD online games and save them for later viewing…THAT is TOP NOTCH!!

  4. Despite the British papers reporting that Setanta may be experiencing financial difficulties in the UK, this has no relevance at this time about Setanta in the US. I would sign up for Setanta Broadband (now called Setanta-I). Dave G, so far, it’s brilliant. I hope to have time tonight to write a review of the new features. So far, so good – I agree.

    The Gaffer

  5. As an existing FSC and Setanta-US subscriber in the US, I would not miss Setanta at all if it meant someone else picks up their EPL coverage (i.e. ESPN). It would mean an extra $15/month in my pocket and hopefully a faster transition to HD.

  6. spoke too soon….
    One of the biggest games of the season and Setanta-i fails the test as I cannot access the Pool-Arsenal gamer due to technical difficulties
    Will be patient though and give them time to sort it out

  7. To follow EPL here in Canada, Setanta is the only channel you need, they show every single game (eventually), cannot complain (other than the obvious lack of HD)…but I gladly fork over the cash – as the option is to read someone else’s account…I shudder when I think back to the pre-Setanta days, hoping that one of the 3 games a week shown here, would be my Mighty Spurs…

    so really the best I can hope for, is that the current set-up continues…feels weird not to complain and ask for more though…just please let it continue as is, right Robbie?

  8. Unless one of the following investors of Setanta put up more funds (100 million?) then its goodbye Setanta. (General opinion)

    Lets see if one of the following provide the required funds :-

    Balderton Capital
    Doughty Hanson
    Goldman Sachs

    Will be very interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks !

  9. No they won’t Rahoz, because that would be breaking the EU law that was put in place previously.

    No one actually debates what would happen with the spare package to be totally honest, and if setanta was to go sooner it would be the 2 packages for next season.

    I guess they would be offered to the BBC and ITV the real losers would be the PL because nethier of those channels would be able to cough up anything like the Setanta deal was offering or would have been offering.

    So the three players in GB on this look like this:

    Sky might look happy for the time being but stirring up trouble with a broadcaster that has links to Disney or Espn, I would suggest it’s extremely risky.

    The premier league well as i said will end up with lost revenue and won’t be able to overturn the EU directive, so will make a loss selling the spare package to one of the terrestial TV channels (hopefully BBC).

    I think greed has blocked the view of reasonable idealogy, the Sky thing might not happen, but the Premier League’s decision to go for the money like they did with the Highlights when ITV got looks like it might backfire.

    All this delivers ironically the EU directives idea which was to make the games more accesible, and i would suggest in that bargain that no platform should have 3 packages, someone said on another board that only a small few don’t have Sky, the small few is actually a rather large majority of the country.

  10. Executives from the broadcaster met Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore on Thursday to ask for more time to meet the scheduled instalment on its existing £392 million three-year rights deal.

    Telegraph Sport understands that the request has been rejected and the League intends to hold Setanta to its contract, raising fresh concerns over the broadcaster’s immediate prospects.
    Setanta allays fears over Football Association contract with £10m payment
    Setanta shake-up to give it sporting chanceThe payment is the largest and most significant among £100 million of obligations that Setanta is due to meet before the end of the year and it was hopeful of securing a concession from the Premier League to help ease an immediate cash-flow crisis.

    The League’s decision to reject that request and insist that payment is made on time and in full will come as a blow to the broadcaster as it seeks to persuade investors to provide the £100 million it needs to continue as a going concern.

    Setanta is engaged in a major restructuring of its business after failing to retain both the packages of Premier League matches it owns in the 2010-2013 rights auction held earlier this year. Setanta also has a £150 million, four-year deal for England home internationals and the FA Cup.

    Doubts about Setanta’s future first emerged in March when, as revealed here, it was late with a £10 million payment to the FA. Insiders insist that it is up to date with all payments and intends to meet its demands going forward, but the company is reliant on fresh investment to do so.

    With fewer Premier League matches to attract subscribers from 2010 the company’s primary investors, Goldman Sachs and private equity houses Balderton Capital and Doughty Hanson, have major concerns as to the viability of the existing business model.

    A new management team has been appointed with Sir Robin Millar, formerly of publishing house Emap, leading the search for investment. Gary McIlraith, a former Sky executive, has been appointed chief executive of Setanta UK.

    Their strategy has been to approach all their partners and renegotiate payment schedules and in some cases to ask for a reduction in fees. Talks have been held with the Scottish Premier League, whose new deal running from 2010 is worth £125 million, as well as Premier Rugby, the Indian Premier League and the US PGA Tour.

    Setanta has stressed in discussions with governing bodies that its presence in the market alongside Sky has been beneficial, driving up the value of rights. The SPL, for example, has seen the value of its rights almost double.

    Setanta’s arrival as a competitor to Sky drove up the domestic value of Premier League rights by almost 70 per cent in the 2007-2010 rights auction, but the League now seems determined to hold the company to the letter of their contract.

    The Premier League’s position may be informed by the need to distribute more than £600 million to its clubs at the end of the season, but its decision also demonstrates deep confidence in the value of its rights.

    The League has shareholder guarantees from Setanta’s major stakeholders and could expect to get close to its valuation of £130 million for the final year of the contract if the broadcaster were to fold.

    Setanta’s hopes of avoiding that fate now rests on persuading Doughty Hanson and Balderton to back their initial investment with enough money to see the company through to the end of the year, by which time the credit markets may have recovered.

    There are also understood to be internal discussions about the two finance houses taking equity stakes in the company similar to that held by Goldman Sachs.

    There will be many in sport, and not just those reliant on Setanta’s largesse, hoping they reach a positive outcome
    Extract from Daily Telegraph 8.5.09

  11. Read the above with a bit of interest, on setantas coverage of European football its a shame they don’t coach there commentators in pronouncing names and places in the correct manner , one person mentioned eurosport
    and its coverage on the exceptional eurogoals, the key difference is there
    guys have a knowledge few of the others have due to a constant exposure
    over the years.
    Having one person doing a live game from 2 venues as setanta have done as well is simply ludicrous at lunchtime they are in holland in the evening france.
    Sorry for me they leave a lot to be desired in terms of professionalism .

  12. Opps…. Rumour here in UK is that Setanta defaulted on 3million payment to Scottish Premier League. Is the end near for Setanta ?

    1. i hope so, the greedy FA who dont care about england surporters, lets have just one supplier of live football, and highlights free for everyone

  13. They certainly don’t seem to be able/willing to cancel my subscription to their broadband offering here in the US. Stock email response (after second inquiry) and nothing since.

    Will be interesting to see if they enter fraudulent territory by charging me for June.

    The service itself is another issue, of course… overall positive experience but lots of bad glitches meant not a keeper.

  14. “Setanta so what, if they where the only choice in the world,i would throw my tv in a skip.”

    – so what? Uh, if you want all the available games on a given weekend, in the USA you need both FSW and Setanta.

  15. Some people will be pleased to see that UK newspapers are today reporting the demise of Setanta within the next 7 days.

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