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Current as of 31/10/14 07:40PM NZST

Sky's English soccer deal ruffles feathers

By Steve Deane

Tim Martin from Coliseum Sports Media.
Tim Martin from Coliseum Sports Media.

The timing of Sky TV's announcement that it will screen delayed coverage of English Premier League soccer matches involving glamour clubs Tottenham, Manchester City and Arsenal has been labelled a "cynical play" by rival Coliseum Sports Media.

Coliseum, which holds exclusive rights to screen EPL matches live, announced on Wednesday that its internet-based subscription packages could now be purchased.

Sky countered by saying it had reached deals with the three major EPL clubs to screen delayed coverage of their matches.

A deal with a fourth club - tipped to be Manchester United - has been struck but not yet announced.

The timing of Sky's announcement - less than 24 hours after Coliseum went to market - was designed to impact on Coliseum's launch, chief executive Tim Martin said.

"It's a deeply cynical play ... That's the way they've chosen to do it.

It's intended to muddy the waters."

Sky's director of sport, Richard Last, said the option to strike deals with up to four clubs to screen delayed coverage was a factor when the network opted out of bidding for live rights.

"And we knew that a lot of the viewing was delayed anyway, especially with MySky now," Mr Last said. "So we knew that a number of our subscribers would see value in delayed games if it was for the big teams and not too delayed.

"We think we have got something that is going to make a number of people happy."

The timing of the announcement was down to an agreement with a third club being confirmed overnight on Wednesday.

Sky's failure to secure live EPL rights prompted negative publicity, but the network had lost only a tiny proportion of its 800,000 subscribers, Mr Last said.

"Out of a subscriber base of over 800,000 I don't think it was even in the 0.00 [per cent] number.

- NZ Herald

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