Sky Sports

Sky Sports Takes Advice From ‘ESPN 8: The Ocho’ To Fend Off BT Sport Competition

As football clubs across the country prepare for the start of the new season, the nation’s broadcasters have also been making moves for their own battle for supremacy, which takes place not only in our living rooms but on our mobile devices too.

Last year saw arguably the most significant development in UK sports television since the launch of Sky Sports itself, with BT Sport’s arrival in the market. Unlike Setanta or ESPN, BT has the ambition and the money to mount a serious long-term challenge to Sky’s supremacy.

Sky’s big innovation for 2014-15 is the launch of Sky Sports 5, a football-only channel that brings it perilously close to ESPN 8 ‘The Ocho’, the satirical channel featured in the movie Dodgeball that boasted “if it’s almost a sport, we’ve got it here.”

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GAA Puts Money Ahead Of Principles With Sky Sports TV Deal

Reading the Irish press in recent weeks, it would seem feasible that the three main issues affecting the country are the introduction of water charges, Garth Crooks’ controversial Croke Park concerts and the decision by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to sell some of its TV rights to Sky Sports.

The GAA’s new broadcast deal will see state broadcaster RTE show 31 matches and Sky 20 matches – 14 of which will be exclusively live. This marks the first time All-Ireland matches have not been free-to-air in Ireland, with RTE showing matches since 1962 and commercial station TV3 broadcasting games between 2008 and 2013.

So what? Sports organisations have been getting into bed with pay-tv for some time, why is this any different? Well, unlike football or rugby union, Gaelic Games are amateur at the highest level, with the GAA’s remit being to promote the games as part of a wider movement to promote Irish culture and the Irish language.

By partnering with Sky, many feel the GAA has prioritised commercial gain ahead of its principles, which would dictate hurling and Gaelic football are available to as wide a domestic audience as possible.

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Behind The Scenes Of Soccer AM

Soccer AM 6Soccer AM has been a staple of mine and many football fans’ Saturday morning since it debuted on our screens in the mid-1990s. Its eclectic mix of footballing features, nonsensical sketches and vast array of in-jokes have earned it a cult following that has occasionally spilled over into the mainstream.

In the early part of the past decade, it’s Save Chip campaign to assist the fictional Chip’s battle to let his girlfriend let him watch football, saw signs appear at sporting events around the country and messages of support appeared in Championship Manager 01-02, while the show successfully lobbied for the Iain Dowie-invented ‘bouncebackability’ to be included in the Oxford dictionary.

It has survived line-up changes, a reduced running time and minor alterations to the format, but it remains essential viewing for anyone with an interest in the sport. When I was invited to attend the filming of the show last month, I couldn’t accept the offer quickly enough, even though it meant sacrificing my Saturday morning lie-in.

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