Monday, October 05, 2009

Online Only For England

It had to happen. Finally a major sporting event is going to be available only on the internet. England's World Cup qualifier against the Ukraine is something of a formality since the team has already qualified. Along with the fact that the rights for the match were held by the defunct Setanta means that the game is to be made available online by Perform, who have carved a very good niche for themselves in the sports highlights marketplace (indeed, they are fast becoming the online TV version of Setanta).

It's a sign of things to come and, if successful, will move internet TV up the rights value chain, giving more online operators the confidence in bidding for second level rights.

Of course, for well over a decade, many 'secondary' sports have relied on online delivery as being the only way to watch sports and their popularity is demonstrated by the recent Aerobatics World Cup, covered by Airsports.tv using VidZapper technology, where nearly 100,000 viewers tuned in to watch some spectacular action.

I still see a world where sporting rights are bought by reverse auction, where enthusiasts band together to bid for rights, cutting out the TV middle man.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how many people pay the £4.99 for the England game - and if the technology can cope.