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Telco Bidding High for IPTV Content

According to Pyramid Research -- "Last month, Belgian courts confirmed the award of the country�s football �- also known as soccer -- TV rights to fixed carrier Belgacom. The court decision was the outcome of a suit brought by the country�s cable providers, who had contested the award of the rights to Belgacom on procedural grounds. Last May, Belgacom outbid cable and TV companies for the rights to broadcast Belgian football, paying about 36m euros a year for the next three years. The Belgacom win is a momentous one, arguably the first time a telco trumps traditional broadcasters for the exclusive rights to a major sports championship. Still, the question remains; is the Belgacom win truly a glimpse of a topsy-turvy future where telcos will compete with broadcasters for the exclusive rights to premium content, or is it a mere Belgian aberration? The truth, we suggest, is somewhere in the middle. Telco participation in the bidding for content rights is accelerating the inflation in the cost of premium content. In an environment where the Internet has added to the clutter of content, exclusive, sticky content was bound to appreciate in value. All the same, the involvement of telcos in content bidding has contributed to an acceleration of content costs. In Belgium, Belgacom�s bidding took TV rights to double their initial cost on an annual basis. In France, the rights to French football sold for 60 percent more than under the previous contract; France Telecom�s (FT) participation was not a key catalyst in that rise (the telco dropped out of the bidding, finding the figures excessive), but it did contribute to the overall spiral of inflation. As more telcos seek exclusive content to make their TV offering relevant, the value of content is set to appreciate even further."

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