The TV deal that’s worse than nothing

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that three of our early season fixtures have been moved for TV coverage, on a previously unknown channel called Premier Sports. Our home games against Wrexham and Fleetwood have been moved from Saturday afternoons to Friday evenings.

But let’s give the deal a chance, it’s better than nothing right? Right?

Well, actually, the answer seems to be ‘no’. It isn’t better than nothing.

Firstly let’s look at the ‘facilities fee’ a broadcaster pays to clubs. In the Premier League this is in the region of half a million pounds a game, obviously it’s not going to be anywhere near that. This article on Vitals Lincoln says we got £75,000 when our FA Cup game with Northwich Victoria was shown live on ITV two seasons ago… So how much are Premier Sports offering? A paltry £5,000, or at least that was the fee paid last season.

At our current prices, £5,000 translates into 277 tickets. So if our gate is reduced by more than 277 people…we lose money.

Given the long distances involved in travelling from north Wales, it’s almost certain that Wrexham will bring a much reduced travelling support than they would on a Saturday, which the TV money won’t make up for.

Another concerning thing is the deal itself. Premier Sports hasn’t actually paid any money for the rights, but promises to “share revenue” with the clubs once the “production costs have been recouped”. In the 2010/11 season, the production costs were not recouped, the clubs made nothing.

But what about us? It’s cool that Imps fans can see games on TV right? Well you can. If you have Sky. And if you’re willing to pay £7.99 a month on top of your subscription. For that money you get live coverage of games you’ll probably be at, games you’d have to be insane to want to watch (why would a Lincoln fan be interested in Mansfield v Newport County, to name one enticing fixture from Premier’s early season schedule?), and a mixed bag of events no-one else wanted (NASCAR, Brazilian football, Australian rugby league).

It seems to me that everyone loses in this equation. Fans get messed around and clubs and the TV company lose money. It simply makes no sense at all.

Welcome to the Conference.

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