News International (NI) are claimed to have agreed a rights deal for broadcasting highlights of the Barclays Premier League (the 1st-tier football league of England), with the deal seeing clips of games becoming officially first-run on the websites and mobile apps of newspapers The Sun and The Times (and The Sunday Times).
The agreement from NI Group (part of Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp., themselves part-owners of main Premier League broadcasters Sky Sports), sees the two newspapers gain the rights to air online clips from all 380 Premier League games during the 2013-14 season, alongside exclusive ‘near-live’ highlights on mobile devices, taking those respective rights from current holders Yahoo and ESPN (who run the popular free app ‘ESPN Goals’).
The deal (rumoured to be worth £20m for one season) gives The Sun and The Times rights to show eight 30-second-long clips of each game during matchtime, with the exclusion of games that kick off at 3pm on a Saturday under a long-running initiative from The FA (The Football Association (England)) to ensure that televised coverage does not directly affect stadium attendances. In addition, the newspaper’s websites will be permitted to air 60-second clips of each game on their ‘digital platforms’, to be made available for a 7-day period after the game in question.
NI claim that their subscribers will be able to access clips via The Sun‘s upcoming tablet computer app, while apps and websites of The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times will also make content available.
NI chief executive Mike Darcey said of the deal: “They [subscribers] will now have access to the most compelling moments in the most competitive football league in the world at a time, place and format that suits them. In a rapidly changing industry, this is an unprecedented moment and a testament to the pioneering attitude of which we can be proud. Once again we are leading the way with innovative technology, drawing on our journalistic heritage and our unrivalled world-class content.”
News Corp’s Robert Thomson added: “Smartphones are only going to get smarter and we have to be just as clever in creating content and finessing the format. With an eye toward the virtuosity of video, the new News Corp will be focused on complementary content, repurposing our expertise across platforms and across the globe. The confluence of digital technology and football is one of the great meeting places of the modern world, so this is quite a moment for the company. We are practising our goal celebration.”
With Sky Sports also agreeing a new ‘wide-ranging’ Premier League highlights deal for their channels this week, it seems as though the only direct domestic coverage of the league that will not be from a News Corp. property will be the 38 games aired by broadcasting newcomers BT Sport, and regular evening highlights offered by the BBC. Will the market domination be a good move for News Corp., or will fans begin to turn on the lack of variety?