Liverpool are in the middle of a gruelling schedule – it will be the team’s sixth game in 19 days – that is taking its toll on the squad. Manager Jurgen Klopp is without a senior centre back for the match, as Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure are all hurt, while attackers Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are also injured. The match comes three days after a League Cup semi-final match at Stoke, and five days before a Premier League game against first-place Arsenal. Klopp could even make 11 changes to the team. “It will be a team that hasn’t played too often together,” Klopp said. “If this is a chance for Exeter, then they have to take it.” This will all be music to the ears of Exeter’s players, whose team is 16th in the 24-team League Two – a gap of 76 places to Liverpool in the English ladder. The last time Exeter reached this stage was in 2005, when they took Manchester United to a replay after a goalless draw at Old Trafford. MANCHESTER, England (AP): It’s a match that has all the ingredients of a classic FA Cup upset. An injury-hit, inconsistent and potentially jaded Premier League heavyweight making a 500-mile round trip to a team in the lower reaches of the fourth tier with a small ground, poor field, and a recent history of shocking a top side. Exeter’s home game against Liverpool today is the pick of the games in the third round of the FA Cup, when the giants of the Premier League join the teams from the lower leagues and non-league in the world’s oldest club knockout competition. As always, the search is on for a huge shock on one of the most exciting weekends in the English calendar and it could come at the 8,500-capacity St James’ Park, which – located in the south-west corner of England – is one of the most remote grounds in the country. THREE-PEAT Arsenal are bidding to become the first team since Blackburn in 1884-86 to win the FA Cup in three straight years, and to extend its record-setting haul of FA Cup titles to 13. With his team having its best chance in years to win the Premier League, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to rotate his squad. Wenger said Thursday that Alexis Sanchez is not yet ready to return from a hamstring injury, but midfielder Mikel Arteta is available. GRUELLING SCHEDULE
Courteney Monroe21st Century Fox has completed its deal to take control of National Geographic and rejigged its senior management.Courteney Monroe will become the international channels chief under the new structure and Fox International Channels exec Ward Platt will be in charge of channel distribution and commercial activity.Fox announced in September that it planned to take control of Nat Geo, forming a new group, National Geographic Partners. Widespread job cuts at Nat Geo were then announced earlier this month, with 10% of the 2,000-strong workforce facing the axe.With the Nat Geo Partners deal closed, Fox yesterday announced several senior management changes under the overall leadership of CEO Declan Moore.Courtenay Monroe becomes CEO of Nat Geo Global Networks. She is transitioning from CEO of Nat Geo Channels US and in her new role will oversee programming, marketing and operations at the portfolio of international channels, which includes the core National Geographic offering as well as Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo People and Nat Geo Mundo. Monroe joined Nat Geo from HBO in 2012.Long-serving Fox International Channels Asia Pac and Middle East boss Ward Platt becomes COO of the new group and will oversee international operations alongside Moore.In other changes, Susan Goldberg being given an expanded role as editorial director, overseeing all publishing activities and Jeffrey Schneider takes on executive VP, business and legal affairs for the new group having formerly had the same role at Nat Geo Channels.“Upon completing the transaction to form National Geographic Partners, we are thrilled to bring these incredibly talented executives to the senior leadership team,” Declan Moore said in a statement.He added: “We’re excited to officially begin our journey to bring a new and integrated National Geographic experience to people worldwide, and I look forward to partnering with Ward Platt and working with Susan Goldberg, Courteney Monroe and Jeffrey Schneider to share the National Geographic mission with an even larger audience.”Monroe is expected to make further management changes as she takes over the international operations.Nat Geo said yesterday that it will continue to operate its programming hubs in London, New York and Washington and that National Geographic Studios will continue to be its in-house production unit.
Kunle FalodunSony Pictures Television (SPT) has hired Econet Media’s Kunle Falodun (pictured) as VP of distribution for Africa.Falodun began his new role in July, working out of SPT’s London office and reporting to senior VP of UK, Africa, Ireland and Iberia Mark Young.Prior to Sony, Falodun was head of business development at African broadcaster Econet, overseeing distribution of premium sports content through free-to-air network Kwese TV across sub-Saharan Africa.He was a key part of developing and establishing a commercial model for Kwese Free Sports Channel.Having moved to the UK from Nigeria in 2004, he has also worked for Optima Sports Management International (OSMI), where he ultimately became managing director of OSMI UK.“Kunle has extensive knowledge of the African media landscape and has unrivalled experience across all areas of the business – including content, distribution, local production, marketing and acquisition. As we continue to ramp up our efforts across the continent, no-one is better placed than Kunle to spearhead our development in this region.”In May, SPT hired long-serving Mediaset buyer Zelda Stewart as VP of distribution for Italy.Today’s news comes soon after Apple poached SPT’s co-presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to lead its push into original programming.
Amazon has been actively exploring a possible acquisition of UK rights to the English Premier League in the run-up to next month’s auction, according to a report in UK newspaper The Telegraph.According to the report, citing unnamed sources, Amazon has been talking to industry figures about how it could incorporate premium football in its live sports offering in the UK.According to The Telegraph, Amazon has consulted industry experts about what is needed to create a top-tier football offering. However, there is no confirmation that the web giant has taken a decision to bid for the rights to the 2019-22 seasons.Amazon’s possible entry into the bidding could have serious implications for Sky and BT, the current holders of Premier League rights. For both, the Premier League rights are central to their consumer offering.The pair recently struck a deal whereby Sky made its sports offering available to BT TV subscribers via the integration of OTT offering Now TV into BT’s service and BT agreed to wholesale its sports channels to Sky for the first time.There has been considerable speculation that a global internet giant such as Amazon, Facebook or Google could launch a bid for top-tier football following smaller-scale experiments in live sports. Amazon last year acquired rights to ATP tennis in the UK and Ireland, beating Sky.Some observers are sceptical about the likelihood of a bid for Premier League football, however. In a column recently published by Digital TV Europe, former Sky COO Mike Darcey expressed the view that a bid by Amazon or another big web player is unlikely because the cost of replicating the strategy in multiple territories would be huge, because the streaming infrastructure required to provide a quality service is still lacking, and because the business model for the likes of Amazon – as against Sky – is unclear.Darcey also argued that an Amazon bid for a smaller slice of the rights to “test the waters” could present more of a threat to BT than to Sky.The Premier League is expected to offer seven packages in total in the auction, with 200 matches available in total. The League is hoping to raise more than the £5.14 billion (€5.77 billion) it secured under the current rights agreements with Sky and BT.
Sports streaming service DAZN has teamed up with Discovery on a wide-ranging distribution pact that will see two Eurosport channels made available to DAZN subscribers in Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain.Eurosport 1 HD and Eurosport 2 HD will be made available in the four markets under the deal, which is the latest expansion play for the four-year-old London-headquartered SVOD.The deal comes despite Eurosport’s own OTT service, Eurosport Player, being available widely across Europe, meaning DAZN likely paid a premium for the rights.Discovery’s Eurosport holds exclusive pan-European rights to Grand Slam tennis championships; cycling’s Grand Tours; all FIS World Cup and World Championship winter sport competitions and premium motorsport series’ including Formula E, WTCR and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Eurosport also hosts Olympics coverage in Europe, with all media rights to Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024 across more than 50 markets.Meanwhile, DAZN has exclusively sublicenced 45 Bundesliga matches from Discovery in Germany and Austria, including matches on Friday night, Sunday, Monday and relegation play-off matches from the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.Eurosport content becomes available on DAZN from 1 August.John Gleasure, chief business development officer at DAZN Group, said: “This is an exciting agreement that brings Eurosport’s incredible sports content to our subscribers, and delivers 45 Bundesliga matches to the DAZN service in Germany and Austria under a two-season exclusive sublicensing agreement.“This deal underlines our commitment to providing the biggest and best sports action to fans in an accessible and affordable way, while rewarding rights holders for integrating their content on our market leading platform. We look forward to developing our partnership with Discovery.”James Gibbons, in his role as head of commercial development for EMEA at Discovery, said: “We are delighted to enter this partnership that expands the distribution of Eurosport’s channels in four European markets. We always look for new partners that help get our brands and content to more fans. In parallel, we will continue to develop and market our all-access multi-sport OTT service – Eurosport Player – for fans who want a deeper experience.”