January 13, 2014
by Jim Boardman
NEW TV deals in nine countries have been announced by Liverpool FC this morning – not for live football but for delayed coverage of recent matches and exclusive content from the club.
Liverpool’s worldwide fanbase is already massive and growing steadily and it’s important for the club for a number of reasons to do what it can to reach those fans. The reception the club got in its last pre-season tour was proof of the adulation there is for the Reds thousands of miles away and this deal is just a small part of the club’s plans to make itself available, albeit not in person, to fans away from ‘home’.
Ian Ayre was criticised in 2011 for suggesting it could be time to bring to and end the equal sharing of TV rights between Premier League clubs, regardless of their share of the viewing or subscriber figures.
Ayre said, at the time: “Personally I think the game-changer is going out and recognising our brand globally. Maybe the path will be individual TV rights like they do in Spain. There are so many things moving in that particular area.
“What is absolutely certain is that, with the greatest of respect to our colleagues in the Premier League, but if you’re a Bolton fan in Bolton, then you subscribe to Sky because you want to watch Bolton. Everyone gets that. Likewise, if you’re a Liverpool fan from Liverpool, you subscribe. But if you’re in Kuala Lumpur there isn’t anyone subscribing to Astro, or ESPN to watch Bolton, or if they are it’s a very small number. Whereas the large majority are subscribing because they want to watch Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.
“So is it right that the international rights are shared equally between all the clubs? Some people will say: ‘Well you’ve got to all be in it to make it happen.’ But isn’t it really about where the revenue is coming from, which is the broadcaster, and isn’t it really about who people want to watch on that channel? We know it is us. And others. At some point we definitely feel there has to be some rebalance on that, because what we are actually doing is disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs.”
The quotes caused uproar, especially at Bolton (who have since been relegated), and there wasn’t any “rebalance”.
This deal won’t come close to being as lucrative as those live rights deals but it will help Liverpool go out and “recognise” their “brand globally”, especially with a planned “roll-out for new-look LFC stores across the world” underway.
The nine nations in on the new coverage of LFC, along with the broadcasters involved, are:
Balkans – Arena TV
Hong Kong – beIN Sport
Iceland – 365 Media
Indonesia – Kompass
India – Sony
Middle East & France – beIN Sport
New Zealand – Sommet
Norway – TV2
Malta – Go TV
The club are working with Pitch International, whose head of sales, Henri Kamerling, says: “We are delighted to be working with Liverpool FC on this project. These wide ranging deals represent the first steps as we work with the club to deliver their key content to their fans around the world.”
Matthew Baxter, Chief Media Officer at LFC said: “It’s fantastic that the club has been able to secure the new host of TV partnerships, allowing passionate Reds to watch the heroes they love.
“One of the club’s main aims is to extend engagement though our various media with the millions of fans across the world, so that they feel part of the Liverpool FC family, and these deals are another step in that direction.”
There will be much cynicism about these deals, especially from fans and observers in England, but for individual fans in those places around the world this will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms.
There’ll no doubt be some disappointment in those countries not mentioned in the press release, but it seems highly likely that LFC’s TV reach will be extending to plenty more nations before too long.
No details were supplied of the cost of accessing this new content in those nine countries.