What is next for Sky Sports after the Ofcom 2010 decision?

Ofcom Decision in the Pay-TV Market

06 April 2010

What has happened?

It was announced on 31 March that Ofcom will require BSkyB (Sky) to offer at a wholesale level its Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels at a price determined by Ofcom. This will provide a mechanism for other platform providers to gain access to Sky Sports 1 and 2 on fair and reasonable terms. The decision will mean, subject to appeals, the wholesale price Sky charges for Sky Sports 1 and 2, to platforms such as Virgin Media or BT, will be reduced by around 10%.

Additionally, Ofcom is proposing to ask the Competition Commission to consider whether there are any competition concerns in the provision of Hollywood first run movies.

Who will the decision affect?

It will most notably affect some of the companies (BT, Top Up TV and Virgin Media) that originally made submissions to Ofcom complaining about Sky’s behaviour back in 2007. The decision has been viewed by Sky’s competitors as a victory against a company that they believe – and Ofcom agrees – to have market power in the wholesale distribution and retailing of its Sky Sports channels. Subject to any appeal by Sky, Sky’s competitors will now be able to buy Sky Sports 1 and 2 from Sky at a price set by Ofcom.

Rights holders, especially those who have received large revenues from Sky for their broadcasting rights, are understandably concerned that their largest income source may contract quite significantly. Sky argues it will not be incentivised to pay millions of pounds for exclusive rights if other platform providers can simply purchase the programmes made by Sky using these rights at knock-down prices.

Unsurprisingly Sky believes competition in the pay-TV market is healthy, consumers are paying a fair price for a product they value and that Virgin, BT and others are being rewarded by Ofcom despite their lack of domestic sporting investment, while Sky has invested billions of pounds into UK sport.

What is the significance for the wider Broadcasting Community?

Ofcom’s decision may cause ripples of consternation through the wider broadcasting market too. Some may see this as an isolated case of a targeted market intervention yet could this be the beginning of a more hands-on approach from Ofcom in ensuring, among other things, fair and effective competition?

If you are interested in any of the above issues, feel free to email any of us (or the Field Fisher Waterhouse person with whom you usually deal) with your views, comments or questions on this topical and contentious subject.

Recent Posts

What a No-Deal Brexit may mean for Future Football Transfer Windows

By Judith McMinn, Owen Jones and Daniel Geey Introduction Halloween is likely to be upon us sooner than we think and with it comes the very real prospect of crashing out of the EU without a deal. The authors appreciate that the broader and more critical issues of the Irish border, food shortages, medical supply […]

Read More →

Premier League Club Broadcasting Monies: The Key Numbers

I had the pleasure of spending some time looking through a number of incredibly impressive and illuminating Swiss Ramble Twitter threads detailing past, present and (projected) future Premier League (EPL) and Champions League (UCL) broadcasting revenue figures. There was some fascinating detail and I wanted to highlight some of the significant numbers involved. £9.2bn: This […]

Read More →

The Changing Game: Done Deal Extract

This is the introduction extract from my football industry book Done Deal. How we consume football has changed dramatically over the years. When I was growing up in the 1980s, watching live football was a novelty. Only the occasional game was broadcast on television and, in contrast to today, few column inches were devoted to […]

Read More →

The Book

Done Deal

An Insider's Guide to Football Contracts, Multi-Million Pound Transfers and Premier League Big Business Insightful, enlightening and thought-provoking, leading Premier League lawyer Daniel Geey lifts the lid on the inner workings of modern football.

Whether it is a manager being sacked, the signing of a new star player, television rights negotiations, player misconduct or multi-million-pound club takeovers, lawyers remain at the heart of all football business dealings. Written by leading Premier League lawyer Daniel Geey, who has dealt with all these incidents first hand, this highly accessible book explores the issues – from pitch to boardroom – that shape the modern game and how these impact leagues, clubs, players and fans.

Buy Book