While a not insubstantial global audience is currently watching AC Milan and Tottenham in the Champions League (with the hosts trailing, 1-0), let’s consider for a moment, soccer broadcasting on the somewhat less glamorous end of the spectrum. With the 2009 collapse of Setanta Sport, the majority of the subscription service’s coveted properties (ie. whatever EPL games Sky didn’t already hold rights to, daily updates on Tony Kornheiser’s viewing choices on American TV channels no one in the UK was familiar with) were quickly snapped up by ESPN’s burgeoning operation in Britain. However, other Setanta fixtures — Gaelic football, NASCAR, etc. were homeless until the formation of Premier Sports TV, a Luxemborg-based concern co-owned by one Setanta’s former principals. As When Saturday’s Comes Andy Brassell explains, the channel’s £6.99 per month fee has proved decidedly unattractive to fans of the Blue Square Premier League, better known as the Football Conference.
Premier pulled out of broadcasting Darlington v Barrrow on January 3 thinking the game would be frozen off. It wasn’t. An extraordinary statement later appeared on the channel’s Facebook page, blaming farrago on inaccurate weather forecasts and the amount of office staff on holiday, but trumpeting that it had fully compensated the “three people who signed up online under the presumption this game was going ahead on TV.”
Premier’s Richard Webb apologized, saying the channel were keen not to lose “between £15,000 to £20,000” due to a late postponement. “We just don’t want to throw away money and jeopardise the amount of games we’re showing,” he argued. He then refused to discuss if there was a break clause under which Premier could leave the 3-year profit share deal early.