Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Rise and Rise of Setanta

One of the most interesting, but least mentioned players in the new world of television in Europe is Setanta Sports. The VC backed Irish company came from a background of showing Gaelic sports in US pubs, quickly expanding to providing coverage of most popular UK sports in Irish bars around the world.

Their core business model for this is stunning. They charge the bar for the coverage and then have someone sit at the door and collect $20 notes if they want to watch a match.

An important England football or rugby match can attract 200 viewers per bar, and with, perhaps, 500 bars all over the world in the network, that's a stunning $2m in revenues per event.

Not surprisingly, this has severely stifled the availability of British and Irish sports on the internet, despite the fact that Setanta bought a streaming company, Servecast, some years ago. Only the odd cricket match and Gaelic sports events have been made available PPV to date. Clearly, they do not wish to cannibalise their old world cash cow.

More recently, Setanta have become a serious player in mainstream sports, winning bids for all Scottish football, some of the Permiership and the PGA European Tour. They have launched two sports channels plus pay-per-view channels in the UK and are planning more.

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