Sky big winner as English Premier League UK television rights sold for $6 billion

Manchester City take on Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Sky big winner as English Premier League UK television rights sold for $6 billion

LONDON: The Premier League’s inflationary bubble burst Tuesday when the $6b sale of British television rights saw a slump in revenue from broadcasters.
The past two auctions both produced 70 percent jumps in the value of rights, fueling spiraling wages and transfer fees and cementing the competition’s status as the world’s richest league. But a second round of bidding for the 2019-2022 rights left two of the seven packages unsold as Sky emerged the big winner, and BT’s number of games was reduced.
The sale of 160 games has raised £4.464b  ($6.2b), compared with £5.14b  for 168 fixtures from 2016 to 2019. The league will be looking to the sale of overseas rights to provide an upsurge in revenue for its 20 teams.
While remaining the biggest broadcaster of most games in Britain with four packages, Sky boasted how it was now paying 16 percent less per fixture in its £3.579b, three-year deal to show 128 games per season. That equates to savings of almost £600m for the European pay TV giant while showing an additional two games a year.
But while Sky’s price per game drops from £11m to £9.3m, BT had to agree to pay £9.2m  — up from £7.6m — for one package of 32 games. The broadcaster, which was launched in 2012 by Britain’s former telephone monopoly, has lost 10 games.
The Premier League increased the number of games available for live broadcasting in Britain to 200, with only overseas channels able to air all 380 fixtures a year live in a bid to maintain high numbers of fans at stadiums.
The Premier League said “multiple bidders” remain interested in the two remaining packages that allow broadcasters to show every game on four match nights. It is the first time entire rounds of fixtures can be aired live domestically, and there is intrigue over whether companies like Amazon, Netflix or Facebook will use them as a chance to gain a foothold in the Premier League.
“To have achieved this investment with two packages of live rights remaining to sell is an outcome that is testament to the excellent football competition delivered by the clubs,” Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore said. “It provides them with certainty and will underpin their continued efforts to put on the most compelling football, invest sustainably in all areas, and use their popularity and reach to have a positive impact on the sport and beyond.”
The 2019-2022 Chinese rights have already been sold to online video streaming service PPTV for $700m in the league’s biggest-ever global deal. In 2015, the American rights were sold through 2022 to NBC in a six-year deal worth $1b.
The auction comes amid uncertainty at Sky with regulators in Britain assessing the attempt by Rupert Murdochs’s 21st Century Fox to buy the 61 percent of the broadcaster it does not already own. Walt Disney Co. has also bid $52.4b to take over the majority of Fox in a deal that Disney hopes would lead to full ownership of Sky.


Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

Updated 16 January 2019
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Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

  • Critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants at particular risk, says expert
  • Report finds that unemployment is a major concern in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia

LONDON: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned of the growing possibility of cyberattacks in the Gulf — with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.

Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk — after an “energy shock” — in the three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019.

The report was released ahead of the WEF’s annual forum in Davos, Switzerland, which starts on Tuesday.

In an interview with Arab News, John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at professional services firm Marsh & McLennan said: “The risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants is moving up the agenda in the Middle East, and in the Gulf in particular.”

Drzik was speaking on the sidelines of a London summit where WEF unveiled the report, which was compiled in partnership with Marsh and Zurich Insurance.

“Cyberattacks are a growing concern as the regional economy becomes more sophisticated,” he said.

“Critical infrastructure means centers where disablement could affect an entire society — for instance an attack on an electric grid.”

Countries needed to “upgrade to reflect the change in the cyber risk environment,” he added.

The WEF report incorporated the results of a survey taken from about 1,000 experts and decision makers.

The top three risks for the Middle East and Africa as a whole were found to be an energy price shock, unemployment or underemployment, and terrorist attacks.

Worries about an oil price shock were said to be particularly pronounced in countries where government spending was rising, said WEF. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88 a barrel, 26 percent above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate, and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil-price target of $70–$80.

But that disclosure needed to be balanced with the fact that risk of “fiscal crises” dropped sharply in the WEF survey rankings, from first position last year to fifth in 2018.

The report said: “Oil prices increased substantially between our 2017 and 2018 surveys, from around $50 to $75. This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of 3 percentage points of GDP.”

At national level, this risk of “unemployment and underemployment” ranked highly in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.
“Unemployment is a pressing issue in the region, particularly for the rapidly expanding young population: Youth unemployment averages around 25 percent and is close to 50 percent in Oman,” said the report.

Other countries attaching high prominence to domestic and regional fractures in the survey were Tunisia, with “profound
social instability” ranked first, and Algeria, where respondents ranked “failure of regional and global governance” first.

Looking at the global picture, WEF warned that weakened international co-operation was damaging the collective will to confront key issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.