(See updated links and info in comments.)
Reports in the press in the United Kingdom have been detailing the struggle by Setanta to find additional financing to meet payments due for rights fees for various sports, primarily soccer. Given the current economic environment and the substantial debt and obligations facing Setanta it is by no means clear they will survive though prospects are improving. (See reports in the Times Online (registered access), Sportsbusiness.com (paid access), and the Independent). The crisis has been triggered by the recent awarding of rights for Premier League coverage in the UK for the next few seasons. Setanta lost out in the bidding on much of its existing coverage and now faces only having 23 matches per year in the future. This significantly reduces its value to subscribers in the UK watching it to see soccer.
Australian football coverage in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland is not in immediate danger. However, should Setanta fail to make the progress payments and subsequently go into receivership it would leave the AFL coverage with an uncertain future. Our analysis suggests that at least in the US, the coverage has been either modestly profitable or at least not a significant loss. The recent reduction in coverage from 3 live matches per week down to 2 probably reduces costs somewhat but at a loss in loyalty by footy fans and a break in the promise of more complete coverage made early on. Whether Setanta will want to renew its AFL contract after the season is not clear either. There is a follow-on effect, too, as both MHz Networks and America One depend on Setanta to get their match feed and without that available it is unlikely they would continue. Thus resulting in a complete loss of coverage in all the countries served by Setanta.
AFANA will continue to monitor the situation and report on any developments.
Article last changed on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 3:00 AM EST