19 October 2000

NTL has abandoned its £328 million pay-per-view deal with the English Premier League.

Although the rights to broadcast 40 games per season over the next three years were won against stiff competition in June, NTL has decided to withdraw following contractual disagreements with the League.

One theory is that NTL, with debts of £9 billion, has discovered that there are currently insufficient subscribers to broadband services to justify the £328m cost.

The contract may be renegotiated the League or may go back to auction. BSkyB, however, would be barred from the auction as it already holds live broadcast rights.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.seemed unperturbed: “We respect the fact that NTL has reached this decision. The outlook for the Premier League is, however, very positive,” he claimed.

Nevertheless, the decision will raise concerns about the viability of broadband businesses and their ability to offer flexible pay-per-view services.

News source: Financial Times