The Blue Square Premier Television Deal: Once Bitten, Apparently Still Not Shy


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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17 Responses

  1. Good analysis.

    Perhaps Eurosport would have been interested in Conference football? After all they have decades of experience with sports with limited watchers, and most Sky viewers would not have had to pay an extra fee.

  2. Dan Herd says:

    Don’t forget, several conference clubs have already sorted out their own online channels. For example, York City’s is £30/season at:

    What will happen to those with this new deal? Will the new deal make more or less money than this existing venture? I would hazard a guess of ‘less’…

  3. jon says:

    The kick off time for the Grimsby game has been put back 2 and a half hours it was meant to be 7.45pm so infact the broadcaster is helping luton fans.

    cheers then!

  4. AdamL says:

    Good article.

    Don’t forget, the sponsorship deals, image rights, advertising and such will all have increased revenue for each club as a result of the club being on television a few times extra each year. For this to increase you don’t even need many appearances. highlights, clips and syndication all are beneficial. Granted, we’re not talking samsung/chelsea levels of cash here, but it would be an increase nonetheless. Plucking a figure out of the air, I’m guessing you can double that 30k on this basis.

    On top of all that, you might find more bums on seats at games as a result of the increased coverage on telly. little lads asking their dads to take them to their local game after catching an exciting match on telly, etc.

    Its a step down a more organised capitalist approach to association football as well. perhaps more marketing/advertising/pr/sales businesses will be more keen to eek as much money out of the potential of the non-leagues, if we can get 15-20k people subscribed? not saying that doesn’t come with its own unique problems, but it should mean more money for the clubs in the literal and immediate sense.

    In a world where everyone is pessimistic about the future of non-league football, i’ll give this my utmost support as its at least something that can create opportunities to bring money and publicity to grass roots footie.

  5. Richard says:

    I think the reason the Blue Square Premier are only going to get any money out of this after a ‘nominal’ level of subscribers has been reached is so they’re not burned in the same way they were by Setanta. This system means that any money received from the TV deal is basically a bonus for the league on top of some added publicity. Instead of having the situation where clubs have already spent the money they don’t end up getting. However, I’m in complete agreement with you that a highlight programme would be a much better idea.

  6. Roger Amber says:

    I already have a Sky Sports package for the football,but I miss so many games as I’m returning home after watching a live Non-League game.
    Because of this I’m unlikely to pay £6.99 a month to miss even more games. If it was on a Pay Per View basis then I might be interested for selected games, probably to record.

  7. Susan Boiler says:

    Whinge whinge whinge

  8. Jeff says:

    Interesting article.
    I have to say we are always too quick of the mark to see negatives when deals like this are struck. People complained there was no coverage, now they say there is no money in it for the clubs. The next thing that only the big teams will be covered and the times changed.
    It is very easy to take this line and be negative, but there is some good to be had from this. Clubs will have coverage that did not before. Money will come in that was not there before both from subscriptions and advertising. I will be amazed if they stick to 30 games if plenty of people take this offer up. I think £6.99 is fair enough. If people support a team in the league then why not ditch ESPN at £12 for 23 average EPL games and take up their first preference sport. The channel is clearly not trying to attract a GAA, NRL and BS fan. They have niche sports that cover different times of year. I think we should try and get behind this. If the channel is a success then Virgin will be forced to add the station to it’s platform.

  9. Roy says:

    £6.99 is cheaper than a pack of fags and only £1 more than a month’s subscription to the non-league newspaper. I know what I would rather have. Less chance of cancer, less chance of reading rubbish and more chance of seeing a good proper game of football for £5 less than ESPN a month. I for one, am cancelling ESPN and taking up Premier Sports. I wish them the best of luck.

  10. Andrew Watson says:

    If 10% of the average home gate of each conference club subscribes (highly unlikely as many attendeesare from the same family or don’t have Sky), you’d have about 4,600 subscribers at £7 a time = £386,400. Divide this by the 30 live games and you get £12,880 per match. This would not even cover the cost of the satellite link to beam the match back from the ground to the studio!! If I were running a BSP club, I would opt out if I could as the loss of income on a matchdaywill be more than the likely income from TV (nil) and no-one is going to pay extra to advertise pitch-side if there are only 4,600 subscribers!

  11. Marke says:

    If I could access this on digital terestrial TV, then I would subscribe. I used to enjoy Setanta’s live and highlights packages. But to limit the service to sky subscribers only is pretty damn useless.

    The details of the agreement are so opaque, its hard to decide if the clubs will get any money at all. Even 10K or 20K would be a godsend to my club (Histon).

  12. gavin says:

    What if the BBC had a subscription sports based channel (£6.99) which featured just irish and conference football, would the moaners pay for that?

    I have a few friends that are fickle fans of my local team, they generally think the matchday programme should be no more than £1 and entry a fiver. My team is in conference national!

    If any of the current conference sides got into the premiership, they would be having to pay ESPN and Sky Sports to see their team.

    Another interesting thing, looking at forums is that fans are moaning that highlights of their games on their website will be delayed until after Premier have shown them. Those with a short memory can be reminded that Setanta did the same thing.

    What if (as I’ve been told) that the BBC offered nothing except highlights, would you prefer that over 30k per club by going with Premier?

    Get a life and support the fact that the conference will have more coverage now than it has had and there is an oportunity for those same clubs to receive more funds.

    Protests of not supporting Premier under this deal means you are screwing your own clubs by denying them a part of the 50% share. Any fans of clubs that subsequently go out of business then only themselves to blame.

  13. LadyWomble says:

    This is non-league, level 5 football we’re talking about. With saturation football coverage on TV already, who’s really intersted? And I’m talking as someone whose team is in this league! A highlights package would be great but 90 minutes of some of our dirge, never mind anyone else’s, is a bit much.

    The deal is reliant on a “nominal” number of (additonal?) subscribers before clubs get any money. Yeah, right; the Conf wallahs have done us proud. A minority, subscription satellite channel no-one has ever heard of (ex pat Gaelic footall/hurling and Aussie RL fans excepted) and with no realistic chance of expanding their audience will end up costing clubs money.

    When will the Conf chiefs and the patronising types from higher up the food chain realise that the ONE good thing about non-league football is not having to cow-tow to TV companies screwing around with the fixures.

    This is a lose-lose deal, shame.

  14. steven says:

    well im glad that luton will be on tv so the people of york and others who hate us will be able to suffer watching them lose to the hatters COYH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Dave Donut says:

    I think they might have considered a pay per view option, of say £10 per match.

  16. Great article and I agree a highlights show would be much better. The problem however would be getting enough high quality footage to make a program.

    Even league football and Premieship rugby strugle to do this. They often resort to just one camera in the middle.

    Plus, I suspect running one camera at 10+ games is substantially more expensive then 3-4 cameras at just 1 game.

    Also, 20,000 subscribers is very high. From industry numbers across other sports, I suspect at best the number of potential subscribers is no more then 2-4,000. The actual penetration rate for paid-for online TV/highlights outside of Sky Sports is very low in the UK.

    Re the money. Their is a second important point to consider.

    The money raised from TV is not the most important point here and I suspect the TV deal was never motoviated by money – from this deal.

    It was in fact motivated from its affect on other deals.

    I suspect Blue Square and other league partners would negotiate a much lower fee without a TV deal in place. I know I would.

    So the money earned from TV is low, but this has a significant effect on other sponsorship deals. Without it the overall income the league can generate for clubs would be much lower.

    So in conclusion the league must do TV, and due to the economics of online paid for TV, they must do it as cheaply as possible.

    Hope my point is helpful. Great website.

  1. April 14, 2011

    […] noted the potential pitfalls of this deal when it was first announced last year. Viewers could only subscribe to it if they had […]

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