Channel 4 head of sport, Pete Andrews used the Westminster Media Forum Sports Broadcasting event to showcase the benefits of free-to-air/pay TV partnerships
Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum Event on Sports Broadcasting on Tuesday, C4 head of sport Pete Andrews made clear his support of partnering with pay TV providers for flagship sporting events. He believes they are beneficial for all involved.
One such deal last year allowed England’s victory at the Cricket World Cup Final (pictured) to be shown free-to-air. It was watched by a unique audience of 15.4 million across all channels, according to cricket governing board the ICC, with a peak of 8.92 million tuning in at the start of the historic super over finale.
This made it the highest peak of any cricket match in the UK since records began in 2002.
“I think free-to-air is hugely important to sport,” Pete Andrews, Channel 4 head of sport,
Andrews said: “I think free-to-air is hugely important to sport – we felt [C4 televising the Cricket World Cup Final] was worth it, and I hope Sky Sports thought it was worth it as well, because it allowed us to share an amazing event. I think it worked for everyone – including the ECB [English Cricket Board].”
He also pointed to the success of BBC’s Match of the Day as a standout example of free-to-air boosting coverage of a sport. “Match of the Day does an amazing job for the Premier League because you’ve got that free-to-air window, those bite-size chunks that kids love to watch. You might find somebody in that audience finds out they love the sport and that’s a way to convert that person to a subscription.”
Sky and Channel 4 have also come together to show Formula One, with a rights sharing deal being signed last year. This sees Sky have the lion’s share of live coverage, but does keep the British Grand Prix on free-to-air TV.
Andrews said: “Putting the net out to get a bigger audience is really important. When you can get people to sit together to watch great sport that’s how you get the next generation of viewers and indeed subscribers. 23.9 million people watched the Formula One last year, and Channel 4’s part of that is 17 million.”
He added: “It works for Sky as I don’t think it hits their subscription, but [C4’s involvement] gives awareness. It works for Channel 4 because we get a good audience, and it works for the Formula One management because their product gets a free-to-air window.”