Yesterday the Guardian newspaper ran a breathless piece in which it claimed Eurosport, now majority owned by Discovery, could wade into the next Premier League rights auction and spark a three-way contest between it, BT and Sky.
It makes for great click-bait, but the idea is a nonsense.
Premier League rights are now essential to both BT and Sky and the pair will bid heavily to win as many of the offered packages as possible – BT will want to increase its share beyond the 38 games it currently offers while Sky will want to retain its dominance.
To have a chance of walking away with any packages, Eurosport would need to stump up in excess of £1bn and even that would leave it with just a small share of the least desirable games.
Why would it do that?
We already know from the demise of ESPN and Setanta – both of which paid far less than Eurosport would need to – that sports channels with a minority of Premier League rights cannot make them pay.
It’s impossible that Eurosport could succeed where ESPN and Setanta failed while paying far more.
And it would have to bid for more top flight contests beyond the Premier League in order to make any subscription look like good value.
Sky makes sports pay because there are enough of its basic TV customers willing to pay a premium for top games and sports while BT’s success has come from leveraging sports as a retention tool for landline and broadband customers.
But Eurosport lacks the wider customer base needed to exploit if its to recoup a large investment.
Of course the channel’s new boss says he’s considering any and all rights, it’s an easy way to get the sort of overly excited coverage the Guardian rewarded him with.
But it’s not an indication of anything that’s actually going to happen.