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Frustration With License Rights to Football Commentaries

The football authorities need to re-evaluate the way that license rights are managed for football matches. Case in point, I was listening to BBC Radio Five Live this week and wanted to hear the live commentary of the England v Italy U-21 international.

After getting excited about the pre-match buildup on the radio, my hopes were dashed when I heard the words that most overseas soccer listeners dread to hear. Listen to the audio message here.

It’s perposterous to think that someone owns the rights to the Internet audio of this match in the United States. Who would own it and who would care if the BBC went ahead and played the live commentary? I realize that BBC is going by the book to prevent the chance of being sued by someone who does own the rights, but can’t some common sense be used?

I totally understand why matches such as the Premier League, Champions League and England full-internationals need to be blocked, but come on, why block an England under-21 international? How many people in America would even bother listening to this match, like me?

Even if someone in the United States did own the Internet audio rights to broadcast the commentary of the England under-21 international, there’s no way to conveniently find out who that would be and how I could listen to it.

For those of you who are outside the United States, I’m curious to know whether American broadcasters block you from listening to sports commentaries from the U.S. — whether it be soccer, basketball, American football or any other sport?

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  1. Allen

    June 17, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Before reading MJ’s comment my thought was “…or worse”. I mean, what if no one owns those youth level rights & the BBC is simply blocking them because they don’t have the explicit permission to broadcast them outside of what’s stated in the contract.

    I’d love to see the federations to not charge money for broadcast rights to their games and let whomever wants to broadcast them.

  2. MJ

    June 16, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Unfortunately common sense doesn’t take precedence over contractual obligations, licensing rights, and financial reasons. That’s just how it is. Companies have to go by the book to prevent being sued and risking monetary loss and if that affects a few customers, so be it. The BBC’s main focus isn’t American listeners so they could probably care less if people over here can’t listen to a U-21 game, their primary focus is appealing to the English people because they are the ones who pay for all of the broadcasts they listen to in some form or another.

    English U-21 internationals have to be blocked because of the same reasons full internationals do. The fact that the U-21 team isn’t the senior team means nothing; the FA is still their governing body and the only difference is that the team’s players are younger. That doesn’t exempt them from contractual obligations or anything of that sort.

  3. Anonymous

    June 16, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    myp2p run an outstanding espn360 video feed with english commentary, dont know why youd rather listen than watch, its brilliant

  4. Anonymous

    June 16, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    The NFL sell it’s radio broadcast for every game, they offered it for free a few years back, but have sold them for almost three years now. I think MLB and NBA do the same.


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