Sky again | Page 4 | Vital Football

Sky again

LA_Imp

Vital Youth Team
#61
Dear LA_Imp, ImpAlaska, PerthImp and all contributors.

I will start by saying how serious we take your concerns and by acknowledging the disruption Sky games cause to domestic and international fans.

I will also apologise as there is no short way to explain this matter's complexities; however, I recognise I owe you an explanation based on comments and frustration outlined in this thread.

The process for a TV selection varies, but generally, I would receive an email from the EFL and Sky noting our game has been provisionally selected for TV coverage. On receipt, I am expected to provide any comments within 24/48 hours.

In regular circumstances, our comments may be any policing or staffing concerns, fixture clashes with local events (i.e. Christmas market) or even shortened period between games. Broadly speaking, it is a consultative process.

The comments are correct in noting the direct commerciality to the club. Sky's commitment to the EFL does make up a significant proportion of our core funding, which all clubs receive as an equal share based on our divisional status. Crude maths being 80% goes to the Championship, 12% to LG1 with 8% LG2.

Also, for LG1 TV games, the home club receives a £30k' facility fee', with the away club receiving £10k. I did see a comment which suggested LG1 clubs pool their TV money, and no additional payment is received. This was correct for a short period (2017-18 season from memory) after LG1 clubs collectively voted for this approach; however, we have now reverted to a core payment + facility fee model as described above.

So why would Lincoln City agree to a TV game, given the disruption it causes fans?

For the Oxford game, which may or may not go ahead anyway due to possible international call ups, we will likely be commercially neutral with the £10k payment netting off iFollow revenue loss.

However, the other benefits, both tangible and intangible, are multiple.

Firstly, TV games provide the club with a national and international profile, which is invaluable as part of our ongoing attempts to attract like-minded investment into the club.

Secondly, our sponsors' benefit is significant, with TV games providing more exposure in 15 live minutes than a whole season of highlights on Quest, SSN, and other digital platforms. We do bat above average for attracting national partners - the likes of Pappa Johns and historically Utilita have been great backers of the club. Ultimately these companies have a budget to put into clubs across the whole of the EFL (and possibly other sports), with their marketing managers hedging their bets based on historical and future TV performance. What also should be factored in is the profile TV games provide our local partners - who on the whole sponsor Lincoln City for their love of the club. A single TV game allows us to 'pay back' local sponsors for their support, with something that could actually stand up to scrutiny if measured based purely on return on investment.

The final element is that we know live home games generate the "most significant spike in impressions to Visit Lincoln and other Lincolnshire destination websites", as qualified by an economic impact report carried out by the University of Lincoln. In short, Lincoln City being on TV is a proven benefit to our City/County economy. This is all part of the consideration of many local political decisions. An example would be support from (say) the Local Enterprise Partnership when looking to attract funding for the Stacey West development. (To be clear, this is for illustration only)


Is all of the above worth the disruption to the fans without thought? The short answer is no.

When offered a TV game, we review all considerations and aim to come to a sensible football and sensible business decision. To give this context, of course, you know about all the times we agree to be on Sky, but what about the game that is offered, considered and rejected that never you never get to know about?

As to the disruption to international fans, in particular when it comes to iFollow restrictions. This is a little more complex due to the intricacies of the multi-layered broadcasting contacts.

I will try and simplify by saying Sky holds the UK's rights, with many other broadcasters having direct rights for their market, albeit often a copycat feed from Sky's production team.

At the time of live TV selection, we cannot confirm if a game will be picked up by any of the XX international rights holders. Sky is mandated by a pledge to fans regarding fairness and notice periods; however, this is not as rigorous as we leave the UK market.

Dealing with international TV rights is absolutely out of our hands. By the terms of the iFollow contract (which has to be subservient to the broadcasters contact - that is just the hierarchy of how it works), the broadcaster automatically triggers a clause which means the game is no longer available on iFollow. This usually is no huge drama, as long as the local partner (say Viacom in India) commits to showing the game. However, what can often happen is the local broadcaster decides there are other more prominent events for that marketplace (i.e. a 2nd division cricket fixture in India), which means not only have they triggered an iFollow blackout, but they also do not show the game.

The best-case scenario is the local partner recognises this and releases the iFollow blackout. However, I understand that this often doesn't even register on the producer's radar, meaning they wave the broadcast rights, but double whammy - the blackout remains.

For Lincoln City, we do not have direct dialogue with the international broadcasters, so there is no way to evaluate the overall disruption. Truthfully, this is a leap of faith and often more down to other local events than the profile of our chosen fixture.

As you can see, this is rather complex, somewhat out of our hands, but in no way do we ever act in a blasé fashion, and 100% we always do our best to consider any disruption Vs overall benefit to the club. I respect and understand that I will make an unpopular decision based on impact on personal circumstances; however, I give you my absolute assurance that a decision is never made without evaluating the wider impact and what is overall best for Lincoln City Football Club.

If I can close on a positive, in sharing that the LCFC Vs Peterborough fixture was watched live by a total UK audience of c400,000. I am told the LG1 range usually is 150,000-250,000. Of course, we have to respect our opponents' role in these outstanding figures; however, this was somewhat repeated for the Gillingham fixture, with another above-average performance of total viewing figures.


I do hope the above does go somewhat to explain our thinking, even if you disagree with any conclusions that we arrive at.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Liam Scully.
Dear Mr Scully,

Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful response to this issue, and for directly addressing the international Imps fans who are impacted by the complex set of circumstances you carefully lay out. I cannot overstate how impressed I am that LCFC took the time to read these boards, consider the discussion taking place, and deliver a response that was as detailed as it was transparent.

Your careful explanation of the situation speaks volumes about the leadership and professionalism of LCFC at this point in the clubs history. Furthermore, it is quite clear that this culture runs throughout the club and, I strongly believe, is a direct cause of the teams success on the pitch and ongoing battle for promotion into the Championship.

While this issue is a real frustration for fans such as myself, PerthImp, ImpAlaska, and others, I do recognize that the various contractual obligations, international broadcasting rights, and other considerations produce a situation that does not provide a simple solution.

However, and I speak only for myself here, these frustrations are offset by the faith that I, as a fan of many years, have in the leadership at LCFC. The stewardship of the club is second to none in English football, as far as I am concerned (although I am happy to admit my bias). Your response in this thread is indicative of that stewardship and frankly is a breath of fresh air from a fans perspective. I commend you and your team on their approach.

I am also extremely pleased to hear about the viewing figures for the Peterborough and Gillingham fixtures, and understand the value that national exposure can bring to the club and its investors. I will continue to do what I can, as an international fan, to watch as many games as possible, and respect the complexity of international broadcasting rights.

I do, however, have one request that I wonder if you are able to indulge, or at least put in your back pocket. When Lincoln City Football Club eventually achieve their destiny, and rise to the top of the global football pyramid, such that people forget the current dynasties in Madrid, Liverpool, London and Munich, could you turn around to whomever is the leading media distributor and say "before proceeding with contract negotiations, let's revisit an old message board thread from a few years ago"? ;)

Thank you again for your response.

LA_Imp
 

ImpAlaska

Vital Squad Member
#62
Dear Mr Scully,

However, and I speak only for myself here, these frustrations are offset by the faith that I, as a fan of many years, have in the leadership at LCFC. The stewardship of the club is second to none in English football, as far as I am concerned (although I am happy to admit my bias). Your response in this thread is indicative of that stewardship and frankly is a breath of fresh air from a fans perspective. I commend you and your team on their approach.

LA_Imp
You speak for me as well on this one. Sorry I can't give a more thoughtful response at this moment. It's 6:30AM and I'm rushing out to work.
 

LA_Imp

Vital Youth Team
#63
I just want to give this thread a quick bump as I'm not sure all Imps had a chance to see the post from Liam Scully. It really does reflect the great leadership we have at the club.

How many clubs have someone who will take the time to post on the clubs forum in the manner that he did?

And I say this as someone who has been disgruntled with the issue of Sky games.
 

Thaddeus Griffin

Vital Reserves Team
#64
Brace yourself for next season that if we do get promoted then you are likely to miss more matches (and ones that are not on Sky (which is just coincidental)) as Championship matches are picked more often as the world feed EFL offering.
 

Pompeyimp2

Vital Youth Team
#65
I just want to give this thread a quick bump as I'm not sure all Imps had a chance to see the post from Liam Scully. It really does reflect the great leadership we have at the club.

How many clubs have someone who will take the time to post on the clubs forum in the manner that he did?

And I say this as someone who has been disgruntled with the issue of Sky games.
Well said LA Imp - Liam is a top man - the club is in very good hands
 

Red Wimp

Vital Champions League
#66
Brace yourself for next season that if we do get promoted then you are likely to miss more matches (and ones that are not on Sky (which is just coincidental)) as Championship matches are picked more often as the world feed EFL offering.
But then they’ll be more chance they will be able to watch on local sports channel
 

hulloutpost

Vital Football Hero
#67
Brace yourself for next season that if we do get promoted then you are likely to miss more matches (and ones that are not on Sky (which is just coincidental)) as Championship matches are picked more often as the world feed EFL offering.
Possibly not as much saturation coverage for Championship clubs next season if we get crowds back up to decent levels.
 

Thaddeus Griffin

Vital Reserves Team
#69
Possibly not as much saturation coverage for Championship clubs next season if we get crowds back up to decent levels.
I'd imagine it'll be back to normal in the UK by that point.

It was more the case that 3pm kick-offs over here could be shown as the EFL world feed offering and if the local broadcaster overseas who had the rights decided to not show it then they would be missing out on more matches.

I was recently working away and they did not show either Gillingham v us or Swansea v Norwich live that night but did show Coventry v Watford the next day.
 

Imprest 1

Vital 1st Team Regular
#70
The season pass for iFollow went up slightly for overseas viewing this season, but still great value for around 50 live games give or take.
The ESPN + sub in the US is fine at $6 a month for the odd Sky game, they also cover the EFL cup and FA cup games.

If the 'P' word did happen, maintaining both subs would be a no brainer for me.
 

PerthImp

Vital 1st Team Regular
#72
Dear Liam - firstly, my apologies for the delay in responding to your detailed & informative e-mail. I would normally respond fairly quickly, but I have been effectively out of the house on a two-day business event.

Secondly, I would like to echo everything LA Imp said. After 52 years supporting the Imps (including flying over for the Wembley final) I have absolutely no doubt that the club is in the best stewardship it has ever been in my memory and, like many fans, I feel that so many decisions taken by the Board are pretty much unanimously appreciated and supported by us, the fans. To use the analogy, every building has to start with solid foundations.

In terms of the decisions on Sky Sports coverage, I have absolutely no problem that your commercial decisions are wholly in the best interests of the club and its commercial partners and benefactors. Indeed, I naturally fully support any benefit to the club financially. As I have stated, and you recognise, my problem is personal and selfish insofar as it is purely about a quirk of the contractual legalities whereby, as an I-Follow international subscriber that signed up for “live coverage of every league game” the contractual ‘goalposts’ are moved just because Sky decide to cover a game. More than that though it is the fact that Australia (& the USA?) is treated worse than many third world countries who can still access a live feed while we can’t. That is what irks me & I would love to see this put right at the first opportunity when the contracts are renegotiated. Of course I recognise that the whole situation will change again if and hopefully when we are in the Championship, but hopefully the club can put in a word for us poor down-trodden ‘worse than third-world countries’ when the time and the opportunity arises.

In the meantime please be assured of my full support of the magnificent work you and everyone at the club is doing, especially in such difficult times. As I’ve said, frustrating as it is, if continued success means I have to listen to one or two commentaries instead of watching live, then so be it (but it’s always better to watch live 😉).

Best wishes and continued success to all at the club - Up the Imps 👏👏
 

LA_Imp

Vital Youth Team
#73
Dear Liam - firstly, my apologies for the delay in responding to your detailed & informative e-mail. I would normally respond fairly quickly, but I have been effectively out of the house on a two-day business event.

Secondly, I would like to echo everything LA Imp said. After 52 years supporting the Imps (including flying over for the Wembley final) I have absolutely no doubt that the club is in the best stewardship it has ever been in my memory and, like many fans, I feel that so many decisions taken by the Board are pretty much unanimously appreciated and supported by us, the fans. To use the analogy, every building has to start with solid foundations.

In terms of the decisions on Sky Sports coverage, I have absolutely no problem that your commercial decisions are wholly in the best interests of the club and its commercial partners and benefactors. Indeed, I naturally fully support any benefit to the club financially. As I have stated, and you recognise, my problem is personal and selfish insofar as it is purely about a quirk of the contractual legalities whereby, as an I-Follow international subscriber that signed up for “live coverage of every league game” the contractual ‘goalposts’ are moved just because Sky decide to cover a game. More than that though it is the fact that Australia (& the USA?) is treated worse than many third world countries who can still access a live feed while we can’t. That is what irks me & I would love to see this put right at the first opportunity when the contracts are renegotiated. Of course I recognise that the whole situation will change again if and hopefully when we are in the Championship, but hopefully the club can put in a word for us poor down-trodden ‘worse than third-world countries’ when the time and the opportunity arises.

In the meantime please be assured of my full support of the magnificent work you and everyone at the club is doing, especially in such difficult times. As I’ve said, frustrating as it is, if continued success means I have to listen to one or two commentaries instead of watching live, then so be it (but it’s always better to watch live 😉).

Best wishes and continued success to all at the club - Up the Imps 👏👏
Well said PerthImp. It sounds like Aus and US are similar in the situation we find ourselves in. I think this thread has done a good job of articulating the situation and I'm pleased it has been received and understood by the board.