The final whistle? 

8 September 2008

Setanta desperately needs more home wins

From recent events it seems fairly obvious that Irish broadcaster Setanta is privately starting to panic as to the viability of its pay-TV subscription model, and data from media consultancy Enders Analysis seems to back this assertion up to the extent that it paints an even grimmer picture for Setanta, even allowing for the inevitable margin of error.

But of course we’ve been here before with the demise of the ITV Digital pay-TV service, although the economic viability of Setanta was supposed to be better this time round as the result of changes made in ITV Digital’s aftermath.

If Setanta were to fail like ITV Digital did previously, the potential problem for Sky isn’t really with the Government (and Ofcom) but lies instead with the European Commission, who had previously forced BSkyB to share UK Premiership football rights with another broadcaster in order to avoid BSkyB becoming a monopoly in this respect.

Removing Setanta from the broadcasting landscape would result in BSkyB along with the Premier League’s handling of football rights (notably the sums of money being demanded) being placed under another very uncomfortable spotlight as a result, especially if nobody is willing to scoop up Setanta’s assets.

However there is one company that may be willing to step in if the worst was to happen, and that company is Virgin Media, especially as it surprised many critics by recently making a modest profit. (Presumably because anyone dissatisfied by the lack of Sky 1 had already left VM and they had managed to attract some new broadband customers.)

If Virgin were to also move into the world of terrestrial pay-TV as a consequence then that could make life even more uncomfortable for Sky, although as it currently stands the basic financial viability of the scheme could still remain questionable and may place Virgin Media under some unwelcome financial pressure despite the potential long term attractions.

Unless of course the cost of obtaining Premiership football rights were to subsequently decrease, since based on the current evidence they are still too high to result in anything but a dominant and wealthy pay-TV monopoly.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Saturday 11 May 2024