Liverpool FC have officially confirmed their plans to launch a UK TV channel later on in the year. UK Television channels (other than the BBC which has its own rules) are regulated by Ofcom, and the club registered their interest in launching a UK channel with them some time ago. Now Rick Parry has confirmed that discussions with broadcasters are moving along.
The club already invest money each week in content for use overseas and online (under the e-season ticket facility). To create a dedicated UK channel would mean more investment in both content creation and in other broadcast costs, costs the club had never considered worthwhile in the past. The plan to launch this channel pre-dates the takeover, although the new owners are likely to push it forward if they feel it will be profitable.
The Reds’ chief executive Rick Parry said: “We are very excited about the prospect of the club channel which could be a great addition to the coverage that we already provide for our supporters through our website, mobile services and print media.”
A recent, and ongoing, high-profile row between Virgin and Sky has shown that deals to carry channels on different platforms are not so easy to strike. For Liverpool to broadcast on Sky means negotiating directly or indirectly with Murdoch, but to only broadcast on cable would seriously reduce the number of subscribers able to watch the channel, and other technology is still very much on trial. For now Parry is keeping quiet about which platforms will be used for the channel: “We would like to be able to say more to fans at this stage as to how they will be able to get the new channel but, at the moment, discussions with broadcasters are ongoing and there are a number of details still to be worked out. As soon as we are in a position to release further details, we will do so.”
One other issue yet to be spoken about is cost. Football coverage in the UK is set to change for the new season with Setanta and Sky sharing the rights to live games, but Liverpool’s channel is unlikely to be able to show any first team games live other than friendly games. Unfortunately the fact that live football has been awarded to two separate companies means fans will have to pay for two separate subscriptions to see all the live Premiership games from then on. Adding on a subscription for an LFC TV channel showing only delayed coverage alongside interviews and classic games might be a little too much to ask of many supporters.