Football follows ad. revenue online

LONDON - The Internet-only broadcast of England's game in Ukraine is just the start of a trend given the migration of viewers online and the advertising and sponsorship money chasing them, the company behind the deal said on Monday.

Although born out of necessity, following the collapse of Irish broadcaster Setanta in June, offering the October 10 World Cup qualifier on a pay-per-view basis online should bring in a bigger audience than it would otherwise have had, Kentaro boss Philipp Grothe said.

Coming a week after news that spending on Internet advertising in Britain had jumped ahead of television for the first time, the deal made perfect sense, while offering "fantastic value" for consumers, according to Grothe.

"We go where the money is and the money is already on the net," Grothe told Reuters in an interview.

"So the money is on the Internet, the viewers are on the Internet and now we are bringing the content where the money is."

He added: "Since it's fairly new, I would say we tried to be as reasonable as possible.

"If you look at pay per view in the United States, a boxing event is 50 dollars, while in the UK it's 20 pounds or more. (This deal) is fantastic value. You can't say this is unreasonable."



Kentaro have done a deal with live event streaming specialists Perform for online broadcast, while the match will also be shown in cinemas.

Grothe said he expected more and more matches to be offered for Internet broadcast, as digital convergence continued.

He also made the point that if the match proves an internet sell-out - they are limiting subscriptions to a million for technical reasons - that would be a significant figure.

"We are limiting this to a million, which equates to around 2.5 million viewers," Grothe said. "That's certainly more than Setanta would have had."

He added: "This is an exciting deal because of the scale of the match ... but from a technical point of view it's something we do on a daily basis. For techies, it's probably quite boring.

"And from a fan's point of view, with technology converging ... you will not care if (the broadcast) comes via antenna or cable or broadband. You just want to see the content and live sports rights will be the killer content."

England have already secured qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, leaving the qualifier in Ukraine of relatively minor importance from an England point of view.