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New EPL service offers big savings for fans

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:01 20/06/2013
Tim Martin
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
NEW PLAYER: Coliseum Sports Media CEO Tim Martin speaking in Auckland.

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It launches on August 1, costs $150 a season and you can stream any English Premier League game live through your TV, computer or mobile device.

And for the first time in years, New Zealanders will also be able to watch the EPL on free-to-air television.

The brass tacks from yesterday's unveiling of a new EPL broadcasting format, called premierleaguepass.com, came with a simple ethos for Kiwi consumers: More content, less money.

Instead of designated games prescribed by television schedulers, New Zealanders are weeks away from being able to select any of next season's 380 Premier League games, live - though less, 250, will have on-demand options.

Tim Martin, chief executive of rights-holding company Coliseum Sports Media, said the news offers New Zealanders unprecedented freedom to unrivalled content.

"Nowhere in the world is the entire Premier League free to viewers," Martin said.

The financial savings for Kiwi football fans could also be considerable, with CSM taking the rights away from Sky for at least the next three seasons.

For example, with a basic season's pass of $149.90, the package weighs in at $246.85 cheaper than the standalone sport offering of Sky over 12 months.

For anyone who previously subscribed to Sky exclusively for the EPL, they're about to make an even bigger saving - with the option of disconnecting from Sky entirely (no longer needing to also buy Sky's pre-requisite "basic" package to add sport), saving a total of $809.89 over a year.

CSM's new digitally driven format of programming also extends over live matches, with analysis, preview and review shows in addition to magazine shows - though the more detailed content triggers increased costs, with the premium package weighing in at $239.90 a season. Twenty-four hour passes will also be available for $24.90.

While the televised delivery of live sport is nothing new, CSM's arrival does break the mould in the mobile realm, with phones and tablets able to provide access on the move.

As well as smart televisions independently being able to access content, users will also be able to run content on their television, via connection of computers or mobile devices.

Martin was quick to talk up the company's technology as "mint", with the internal system driven by the same technology which screens more than 40,000 live and on-demand games for the NBA, NFL, NHL and UFC.

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As far as free-to-air content is concerned, Television New Zealand will screen one game a week, which will be delayed, not live, aimed at the lunchtime slot, airing between noon and 2pm.

TV One will also screen a 60-minute highlights show on Monday evenings.

Until August 1, premierleaguepass.com - the project's main web portal - will be a holding page, though fans are able to register interest for the service.

Sky spokeswoman Kirsty Way reiterated that her organisation's loss of the EPL rights is a blow to the company, but said the timing of the live games is "not very favourable".

"Local sport and football rates higher than EPL matches. They are the facts," Way said.

"It's not very favourable for New Zealand being in the middle of the night.

"We don't want to downplay it. There are a lot of EPL fans in New Zealand."

Sky's football service will now be spearheaded through the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League and also holding the rights to All Whites matches until November - including crucial playoff games to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

- Stuff

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