Murdoch’s Fox invades Eredivisie
Last week Fox International Channels, a News Corp subsidiary, bought a 51% stake in the Eredivisie Live network, which owns the media rights to Eredivisie football. Rupert Murdoch paid more than one billion euro for a twelve year period, starting next summer.
Eredivisie Live is a pay-tv network, owned by the Eredivisie clubs, with over 600.000 subscribers. Insiders believe a pay-tv network with only live Eredivisie football will never get more than 750.000, which would make it marginally sustainable. Added with the world wide sports content Fox could provide, the station may have a better chance of survival.
A 1996 experiment with sports pay-tv channel Sport 7 failed miserably as viewers were not inclined to pay anything to watch football. Dutch people have been spoiled with cheap television coverage since the fifties with hours of football on the public network, live as well as highlights. Having to pay for games was a new concept, which caused an outcry by the people as well as politicians, claiming it was a public right to watch the Eredivisie on screen. Since then, people have become used to pay for international league football, although the big games of the Champions League are still watcheable for free.
Eredivisie Live was set up by the clubs, when there was no viable commercial interest in live games at other networks. It shows all the games live every weekend for a tenner per month, but has only been able to add the Europa League and none of the big leagues abroad. These are still in the hands of Canal + subsidiary Sport1. Fox might try to add these leagues to their network, along with other sports for the weekdays.