EUROSPORT WILL SEEK US CARRIAGE
Chris Forrester Editor
Eurosport is planning to export its sports, sports news and dot.com trio of services to American, Asian and Far Eastern broadcast markets.
According to Vincent Cheupin the company’s head of sport acquisition, “the news channel is also of interest to viewers outside Europe, especially in North and South America, and Asia. We are looking into this expansion now, and recognise that our product is likely to be very interesting to the US where their news channels just talk about baseball and American football. You have cycling and soccer addicts in the US. It is high on our agenda, along with the two other services.”
Although much of Eurosport’s attention is currently focused on rolling out the news channel in planned local language versions for Spain and France, Cheupin would not say which market would arrive first. “Eurosport News is on air to more than 12 million homes in the UK, Poland and Turkey. These territories are highly competitive and wanted our service and gave us first-mover advantage. Market by market we will expand, and France and Spain are very important to us.”
Cheupin added that Eurosport is staying true to its concept of bringing added value to sports rights owners across Europe. “This means we have never been in the battle to pay ever-increasing sums for exclusivity. We are positioned as a complementary service, so do not see high costs as a threat to our future. Besides, most of the extra cash in Europe goes to football and this is not so important to us”.
He also admitted “news is a challenge” for Eurosport. Indeed, “the launch of Eurosport News was an important event for us, and makes a three-level product with Eurosport.com as the third element, with the news channel being a link between the core channel. Viewers need access to our information wherever they are, and while it is true that the French market, for example, cannot support three sports news channels and the ratings shows that these channels cannot be profitable, we believe we can at least break-even on a pan- European basis. The rights-holders also want this three-level approach. We strongly feel that it is no longer enough just to broadcast a channel, we must look into these new services”.
Cheupin in addition hinted that extra levels of Eurosport might well emerge. “We are not against launching our own niche channels. But if we were to launch a tennis or golf channel we have to be sure there are revenues in it. There are only two models, either through distribution – and we know platforms will not pay a lot to distribute our channels so this revenue stream is declining – or advertising. We are a commercial entity and we need to be sure that any enterprise quickly moves into profit”.