Sky and BT will ‘lose £1bn if sporting events stay shut until August’

Sky and BT will lose almost £1bn in revenue if top-flight sport remains shut down until August, according to a report that recommends players take a pay cut to support their clubs.

In England, the Premier League has postponed matches until at least 30 April, and it appears increasingly unlikely that the league will resume then as the government’s nationwide lockdown is expected to continue for months.

“The hypothesis informing governments assumes an initial three-month long lockdown,” said Enders Analysis, which published the report. “Group activities of 25 people involving close physical contact without protection will not plausibly be the first to be allowed when when some social life resumes.”

Sky has stopped charging commercial clients such as pubs that carry Sky Sports, and pay-TV subscribers can “pause” their payments. BT has told customers to call to “discuss their contract or other options”, while some customers on its flexible pay-TV package can elect to drop sport.

“Assuming a worst-case scenario of a four-month suspension of all sports coverage (British and foreign), with all sports subscribers pausing their contract and wholesale clients being allowed to follow suit, Sky would lose £700m and BT £228m in revenues,” Enders said.

The report says that beyond July Sky and BT will start saving money if sport remains off screens as upcoming rights payments would be postponed or cancelled.

Sky and BT are due to pay the Premier League the six-month licence fee for the first half of the 2020-21 season, which amounts to about £530m in total, in July. BT’s annual bill to Uefa for the Champions League rights is £394m.

The report suggests players need to play their part as clubs struggle economically, with wages accounting for 59% of revenues across the Premier League.

“Football’s cost structure is pretty simple: most of the receipts flow into players’ pockets,” the report says. “The best solution is collectively negotiated pay cuts, but negotiating pay cuts with players is as difficult as herding cats.”

One top-flight German club has reached a deal with players and another is in talks. In France, Lyon has put players on the public “temporary” unemployment scheme, which should cut pay bills by half.

“To limit disruption, pain will have to be shared across the supply chain with players’ pay first in line,” the Enders report says.

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Postpone the new James Bond film, say 007 fans wary of coronavirus

James Bond fans have called for the global release of No Time to Die to be delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The global premiere of the film, Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007, is set for the Royal Albert Hall on 31 March ahead of an international release at the beginning of April.

The founders of two of the most popular fan sites – M16 Confidential and The James Bond Dossier – have written an open letter to the film’s producers asking for it to be delayed until summer citing public health concerns.

“It is by no means easy to say this: the release of No Time to Die should be postponed,” says the open letter to EON, MGM and Universal. “It is time to put public health above marketing release schedules and the cost of cancelling publicity events. It’s just a movie.”

Publicity tours have already been cancelled in China, South Korea and Japan, and Hong Kong has delayed the release of the film until 30 April.

“Hundreds of fans and celebrities from around the world will be flying to the UK to attend,” said the co-writers of the letter, James Page and David Leigh. “The Royal Albert Hall capacity is above the 5,000 limit that affected countries are banning for public gatherings. Just one person, who may not even show symptoms, could infect the rest of the audience. This is not the type of publicity anyone wants.”

The letter argues that as the coronavirus spreads fans will stay away from movie theatres. “The situation by late March and early April will not be conducive to the box office,” it says. “[Waiting] another few months will not damage the quality of the film and only help the box office for Daniel Craig’s final hurrah.”

Disney’s plan to kick off its entry into the European streaming wars with a glitzy event to promote Disney+ has been left in tatters after the company cancelled over coronavirus fears.

The entertainment firm had planned a star-studded private event in west London on Thursday, with hundreds due to attend from across Europe to unveil the service before its consumer launch on 24 March.

“Due to a number of media attendee cancellations and increasing concerns at the prospect of travelling internationally at this time, we have decided to cancel our Disney+ launch events scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday,” the company said.

On Tuesday, Disney announced a deal with Sky to make its new streaming service available to millions of UK households. Disney+ is to be integrated into the Sky Q box, to be followed by Sky’s Now TV streaming service in the coming months. Disney+ will also be available as a standalone app.

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