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In today’s Global Bulletin, the English Premier League considers scrapping its next media rights auction; Ofcom reviews U.K. public broadcasting; Universal Music’s U.K. Taskforce for Meaningful Change outlines tactics to create social change; Series Mania’s Eureka Series unveils three high-profile masterclass speakers; Carlo Dusi shifts from Red Arrow International to Endor Productions; and “Hamilton” and “Mary Poppins” are headed back to London’s West End. 

BROADCAST RIGHTS

According to reports, the English Premier League (EPL), the top domestic soccer league in the U.K., is discussing the possibility of skipping the next auction for domestic TV rights to the competition, and extending its current deal with Sky, BT and Amazon.

Any such deal would require government approval, and the BBC is reporting that talks are already underway about whether rolling over the £4.7 billion ($6.53 billion) deal would violate competition law. When the rights were sold in 2018, that dollar figure represented a 10% drop from the previous 3-year cycle, and clubs and the League are likely concerned that another drop in price could be imminent after a brutal financial year caused by the COVID-19. A rollover would offer more stable financial ground on which to walk going forward.

“Sports have been under pressure, and that’s been amplified even more by the year of COVID when a lot of sports were disrupted or shut down,” Ampere Analysis’ Guy Bisson told Variety. “A rollover gives them continuity after a very challenging period.”

Major league rights have been a source of significant upheaval in territories such as France, where Mediapro backed out of a billion-Euro deal for League 1, and Italy, where traditional Serie A broadcaster Sky Italia was outbid by DAZN, a U.K.-based streaming platform that is proving to be a major disruptor in the sector, with designs on picking domestic rights in other territories as they become available.

Still seen as crucial by pay TV broadcasters in the U.K., a rollover of the EPL rights could be seen as advantageous to Sky Sports and BT Sport as it assures that they won’t be left without a major foundation to their offerings. Having the rights to top end sports allow broadcasters to push expensive bundles and limit churn of subscribers.

A rollover of the media rights is likely to be met unfavorably by rival broadcasters and streamers however, who may object to being left out of the process.

Neither Sky, BT Sport, Amazon nor the Premiere League have commented on the situation. The news was first reported by The Telegraph.

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING

The future of U.K. public service broadcasting in a landscape increasingly affected by deep-pocketed streamers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus is under review by media regulator Ofcom. U.K. broadcaster ITV has offered several suggestions to future-proof Public Service Media (PSM), as the broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are collectively known. These include establishing a new “PSM Operator” regime, cutting through the welter of existing legacy legislations governing the broadcasters and giving them flexibility, and setting clear primary and secondary objectives defining ITV’s role; and for platforms using PSM content to provide fair value and prominence to them.

SOCIAL CHANGE

Universal Music’s U.K. Task Force for Meaningful Change has issued its manifesto detailing company goals and tactics intended to create and influence meaningful and enduring social change within the company and across the U.K. Universal Music will partner with The Black Curriculum on its recently launched Springboard Program to provide extra-curricular workshops on Black British history in the context of music and the arts for schoolchildren between 11-16.

The manifesto includes five key points to influence change within Universal Music: boosting outreach work to bring more Black candidates forward to fill job openings at the company; driving change through a series of internal training programs; celebrating Black culture with Universal Music’s “Black Calendar”; supporting education across the U.K; and building a unique infrastructure to support Black artists at Universal Music.

MARKET

Russia’s Key Buyers Event: Digital, running June 8-10, has named Yuri Kolokolnikov as this year’s market ambassador. Kolokolnikov’s credits include blockbuster drama and comedy titles such as “Game of Thrones,” “Tenet,” “The Americans” and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” His latest Russian series “Hook” will featured at this year’s Key Buyers Event: Digital where its producers will attend the virtual event looking for partners on season two. The series follows a former professional hockey player-turned-agent, and was a hit for Russian VOD platform Megogo.

TRAINING

Eureka Series, a joint venture between leading European TV festival and marketplace Series Mania and French film school La Fémis, has confirmed that “Lost” and “Watchmen” series creator-showrunner Damon Lindelof; “Skins” co-creator and writer Bryan Elsely; and Chris Brancato, writer-producer on “X-Files” and “Narcos,” will give dedicated masterclasses to the six participants selected for this year’s inaugural 14-week training course in Lille, France. Candidates for the program come from 12 leading European film schools and will also be given the opportunity to attend this year’s Series Mania Forum (Aug. 30–Sept. 1), a part of Series Mania, which runs Aug. 26–Sept. 2.

PROMOTION

Red Arrow Studios has appointed Carlo Dusi, current executive VP of commercial strategy for scripted at Red Arrow Studios International, to the new role of executive producer and strategy director at its U.K. production company Endor Productions, starting May 4. Having worked closely with Endor on its popular ORF and ZDF series “Vienna Blood,” Dusi will focus on developing existing projects at the company and broadening its development slate. Red Arrow Studios International has promoted Rodrigo Herrera Ibarguengoytia to senior acquisitions and co-production manager to cover Dusi’s responsibilities there.

AGGREGATION

Streaming content aggregator ScreenHits TV has entered its first Indian content partnership with Simply South, the largest platform for South Indian movies with a catalog of more than 1000 Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam movies. U.K. distributor Moviegoers Entertainment facilitated the deal. ScreenHits TV provides users with a platform to integrate and manage their TV and streaming subscriptions including major players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. The forthcoming ScreenHits app will facilitate live TV broadcasts and offer discounted rates for several subscriptions.

THEME PARKS

Tokyo Disneyland operator Oriental Land has reported its first annual loss since listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1996. For the fiscal year ending in March 2021, the company recorded a net loss of JPY54.1 billion ($497 million), compared with a JPY62.2 billion ($571 million) profit in the previous fiscal year. Admissions to the Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea theme parks fell to 7.56 million, following virus-caused park closures in April-June of last year. These were the lowest figures since Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983. Sales for the 2020 fiscal year dropped 63% to JPY171 billion ($1.57 billion). Oriental Land also announced that managing executive officer Yoshida Kenji would succeed president Uenishi Kyoichiro, who is stepping into a special advisory role after holding the top post for twelve years. – Mark Schilling

MUSICAL THEATER

Lin-Manuel Miranda’sHamilton” and Disney’s musical theater version of “Mary Poppins” are heading back to London’s West End. Returning to the Prince Edward Theatre on Aug. 7, “Mary Poppins” will pick up as it left of with returning leads Zizi Strallen as Mary and Charlie Stemp as Bert. “Hamilton” will resume performances at the Victoria Palace Theatre on Aug. 19, with full casting to be announced soon. Tickets for both productions are available now, and each will begin rehearsals shortly. Both shows are produced by Cameron Mackintosh, “Mary Poppins” with Disney and “Hamilton” with Jeffrey Seller.

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Courtesy of Disney