Before this week, I was warm to the idea of Setanta. Little guy takes on the near-monopolistic beast that is Sky in an bid to add some competition to the market. Good on you for having a go. But now I find myself incredulous over how they have screwed-up over the England V Croatia highlights, missing a massive opportunity to boost their business, and pissing-off England fans right across the country.
I’ll assume you know the story – Setanta buys exclusive rights to air England v Croatia match, big whup – nobody that bothered, game poves to be an absolute belter, with Arsenal’s Theo Walcott scoring a hatrick and England winning 4-1, Setanta get all greedy over selling the highlights to other channels, so people like me that can’t watch Setanta (not even the pubs in Kentish Town have it) don’t get to see the game at all, even after the event. Everyone let down.
This is annoying enough, but what really winds me up is this statement on their website:
“Setanta always wanted as many football fans as possible to be able to watch tonight’s Croatia v England World Cup qualifying match. We always intended to make highlights available, and were disappointed that we were unable to reach agreement with any of the terrestrial broadcasters. This was not due to any lack of willingness on our part: we have been able to strike highlights deals in Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, none of the terrestrial broadcasters who expressed an interest in the England game offered us a fair market price.
“We are delighted that we have been able to find a solution to this problem with our own free-to-air highlights programmes. A lot of people had to move quickly to make this happen and I would like to thank them for their efforts. We hope football fans enjoy tonight’s games.”
I mean, don’t kick me in the balls and call it a blow-job. Don’t try and tell me that you have the interests of England fans at heart here, and definately don’t think that you have taken the moral high-ground there.
THIS is how I as a consumer read and understand your statement:
“We wanted to make us much money as possible from England’s success, and we tried as hard as we could to get as much money as we can. When the terrestial channels didn’t fall for our ploy, we decided to blatantly disregard the people of England by not selling it at all, cutting off our noses and spiting our own faces in the process.
We are ignorant enough to think that showing highlights once, for free on our still-niche channel is an acceptable gesture to the fans, and we are disorganised enough to do it in a way that nobody will have the chance to know that it is available or watch it. We hope that everyone appreciates our complete lack of understanding of the media landscape in 2008.”
Yes I’m ranting, but I am aggravated not just as a consumer, but also as a marketer that is flabbergasted at how badly they have missed an open-goal of an opportunity that could have made their season. Here is what I think they should have done:
- Decline to sell the rights to the highlights to other channels, I agree with that.
- Put the goals free-to-view streaming in high quality on the Setanta.com website as the only place to watch them. Make it a good experience, make the quality excellent and allow users to watch it as many times as they like and send to their friends
- Put clickable pre-roll and post-roll adverts on the clips that promote Setanta subscription packages and allow the customer to click-through and order if they want to buy
- Mobilise your media sales team to contact all your best sponsors and sell banner-advert space on the web page at an extreme premium, as the best and only place that the 60m residents of England can watch the clip. The revenue would be more that than you have ever made from a webpage
- PR-the-arse off the fact that you are declining rights-sales and making the content free for fans. What nice guys you are.
That’s a win-win: Fans get their football, Setanta get increased brand equity, subscriptions and immediate revenue from online advertising. I think that strategy would be especially successful in the long run, because England fans being England fans will now get all over-excited about our prospects and be keen to watch the next matches. Warmed to your brand by your giving away the highlights free when we wanted them, we might then sign-up for your subscription package – in massive numbers.
Instead, I feel even more dismayed that you have obviously invested extra effort in monitoring YouTube and other sites to get clips taken down that fans have shared. Its as if you just stubbornly don’t want anyone to watch it and you don’t care what that says about you as a brand. I found them anyway, of course – you can’t stop these things – but I had to watch them in crap quality on some awful Korean (or something) website covered in abbrassive ads and pop-ups. I now hate Setanta for making me do that.
I would have thought that Setanta would have been a bit more sensitive about this issue, after all, everyone is well-aware that you are an Irish company, and many die-hard football fans don’t think you should be allowed to show our football at all. That’s not my opinion, but this sort of behaviour will probably have some questioning whether Setanta are doing all this just as some gay Irish plan to spite the English?