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ntl u-turn on bidding for football rights

# 1 March 2006, 21:05 by Frank

ntl Chairman Jim Mooney confirmed Tuesday that the cableco again plans to bid for the broadcast rights to air live Premier League football matches, despite backing out of the bidding in November 2005.

Mooney said it would “significantly enhance” ntl’s ability to compete with Sky if it won some of the six rights packages to be auctioned. “If the Premier League and the government are serious about creating competition in football, then we are serious about participating,” he said in a conference call Tuesday.

This is in stark contrast to ntl’s previous comments that the European Commission had “failed to deliver a level playing field for competition”.

Whether ntl are actually going to bid for one or more of the six Premier League packages remains to be seen, but 3 months ago it was “unlikely that we will bid for the majority of the rights in the absence of a 50 per cent maximum rule and equal quality of games between packages”.

BSkyB can bid on up to five of the six packages.

In other news today, ntl’s fresh-off-the-boat CEO Stephen Burch has been learning some new vocabulary. As we know with the fourthcoming ntl acquisition of Virgin Mobile, the marketeers term “triple play” may become a “quadruple play”.

However, The Financial Times quotes Burch as saying he prefers a variation on the term: “We want to inspire ourselves to push for more fourplay.” We like him already.

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