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Monthly Archives: January 2014

The awards season gets in full swing

The stars are in town, so roll out the red carpet

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s the awards season and it’s about to get into high gear. Every year around this time, we are reminded about the best performers, productions and creatives who bring together the television and movies that we all enjoyed over the past twelve months.

The year started off with the curtain raising Golden Globes Awards ceremony which gives us an insight into the probable winners of the more illustrious Oscars coming up in March. From our observations, it’s quite clear that “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” will be the main contenders fighting it out over the biggest prizes, with “Gravity” a possible dark horse amongst the outsiders.

Back here in Blighty, we just had our own soiree with the National Television Awards celebrating all that is great about British television. The usual suspects picked up the awards with Coronation Street, Doctor Who, Ant & Dec, This Morning and Strictly Come Dancing all adding to their previous years wins. With such a narrow array of new British productions this past year to choose from, it didn’t come as a surprise to see this elite group in line to grab yet more (arguably pointless) awards.

Over in the USA this past week, we just just had the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, as the music industry got together to celebrate the years best releases and artists. There’s absolutely dozens of awards categories in this highly watered down awards ceremony. The biggest winners have to be Daft Punk with two gongs awarded for “Record of the Year” and “Album of the Year”. A pretty impressive double

It’s also sporting awards time

After much speculation and debate, the FIFA Ballon D’or for the best footballer in the world was finally awarded to Christiano Ronaldo. Best Manager went to Jupp Heynckes whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic won the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award for his audacious overhead kick against England.

The FIFA World XI was also announced with an interesting mixture of names, that raised a few eyebrows; with the winners being Manuel Neuer, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Sergio Ramos, Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and of course the main man Cristiano Ronaldo.

In a slightly childish taunt, winner Ronaldo decided to parade the trophy before Madrid’s match with Granada, before firing a message to Messi as to who is the best around. The Portuguese forward hit the opening goal of the game, before showing a ‘number one’ with his fingers right in front of the cameras. Messi finished second in the running for the Ballon d’Or, and the pair are said to have a rather a frosty relationship.

Men’s tennis finally gets a new Grand Slam champion

If you missed it, it was one of the strangest major tennis finals in recent years. With an unenviable 12-0 defeat record against him, Stan Wawrinka went into the Aussie Open final vs Rafael Nadal as a massive underdog yet came out full of aggression and confidence and deservedly took the opening set with some great attacking play, not to mention some superb forehands and ‘that’ backhand.

Then into the second set, things went a little weird. With a break to his name, Wawrinka witnessed the disintegration of Nadal as his back went into spasm and the match at one point appeared to be all over; with the possibility of a retirement a distinct reality.

However, this is Nadal we’re talking about and the Spaniard took an injury time out and returned to the court a very much negated player. Wawrinka predictably took the second set. At the end of the second set, Nadal again went for some more treatment and returned to the court looking a little more mobile. Wawrinka looked a different player, not knowing how to deal with such an injured warrior over the other side of the net and lost concentration. Nadal miraculously took the third.

However, with a seriously restricted and sore Nadal trying to claw back a fourth set deficit, Wawrinka regained his composure and won the match. As the players met at the net, he almost seemed apologetic for winning his first major when in actual fact, he was the fitter and the sharper of the two players and deserved his maiden slam title.

Most of the post match press seemed to concentrate on Nadal’s injury which in fairness, has taken the sheen off of a great tournament win for Wawrinka that included the much acclaimed win over the three time champion Novak Djokovic on his way to the final. Anyone who takes out Nole and Rafa in the same competition deserves credit where credit is due and the title was deservedly won by the Swiss, and not by default as some writers may suggest. He fully deserves the title as a grand slam champion and men’s tennis is better off for it.

It was great to see the tournament unfold on Eurosport.

The transfer window is about to shut!

Back in the world of football, the January transfer window is about to close and as always during this time, buying and selling activity has been a little muted.

The most notable transfer has to be the sale of Chelsea’s Juan Mata to Manchester United for a club record £37.1m. With Mourinho not seeing the Spaniard in his plans, he did the decent thing and allowed him to leave to suitors United, where David Moyes is facing intense pressure to turn around a season that is threatening to end very soon if results don’t change fast.

With the defending Premier League champions already out of both domestic cup tournaments and seemingly way out of the title race, very little is left to play for, other than rescuing their chances of maintaining Champions League football next season. With United currently 14 points off top spot and 6 points off the top four, and with home form that has shocked ex-boss Sir Alex Ferguson to name a few, do they have much chance even with their latest acquisition?

We’ll just have to see how things unfold on Sky Sports over the coming weeks.

What’s in store for UK TV in 2014?

Sky to cover ten exclusive F1 races in 2014

The 2013 F1 season has only just completed yet tongues are already wagging at the prospect of a new season that will bring new races and new rules to the Formula One calendar.

Amongst the big stories, Sky has announced its schedule for the upcoming season and will air ten of the nineteen races exclusively in the UK via their subscription based satellite TV service. After recently winning the FIA’s ‘Best TV Broadcaster Award for Outstanding Coverage’ for a second year running, the UK TV giants have gained exclusive rights to broadcast a number of top billed races including Australia, Bahrain, China, Monaco, Germany, Hungary, Singapore, USA, Brazil and Austria. However, the new Russian Grand Prix will be shared by both Sky and the BBC.

Fans without satellite TV can still enjoy nine races on the BBC, those being the British, Belgian, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Malaysian, Canadian, Russian and Abu Dhabi grand prix live over the course the year.

However, before the season has even started, there’s a lot of stories circulating in the press about controversial rules changes. First and foremost is the engines which have been radically downsized. Gone are the thirsty, older lumps to be replaced by what can only be described as tiny and incredibly efficient engines. In fact, Ferrari recently released details of their new engine and it is a modest 1.6 litre V6; equivalent to that seen under the hood of a Fiat 500!

However don’t be fooled into thinking F1 is dead due to the reduction in engine size. These new engines many be comparable in scale to a bottle of soda, but they produce 600 horsepower and up to 15,000 rpm – impressive for such a low volume engine. But if the engines sizes weren’t a big enough concern, then wait of the races rule changes to take effect!

Double points for season finale

Next season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale will be like no other before with the winner receiving a controversial double points award over all the other races. Reading between the lines, it is clear that the motivation for this decision is to increase the chances of the world championship fight to go down the wire with previous seasons won by current champion Sebastian Vettel being wrapped up before the final races even took place!

Another side-effect of making the last race of the season a double point haul is also a monetary agenda, which will explain why big-spending Abu Dhabi reclaiming the slot for next season in the hope that the season’s curtain closer will have more meaning than previous years. s you can imagine, this decision to make the least right a potential shoot out hasn’t gone down too well with certain drivers, most notably current champion Vettel who calls the decision “absurd”.

But what is certain is the decision has been made and it has stuck. F1 could get very heated in many ways this year so stay tuned to Sky Sports F1 to see the season unfold.

The shape of television is changing in 2014

For the past 25 years, Sky have been a pretty dominant force in UK TV, snapping up the rights to the most lucrative and desirable sports, movies and TV series year on year. That now it seems is all about to change!

After seeing off such formidable rivals as ESPN, Setanta and ITV, strategists at BSkyB are thinking hard about competition from British Telecom who have shown a very aggressive and powerful tactic in snapping up new business through their existing telecoms clientele supply chain.

The much maligned telecoms giant continues to suffer from an unshiftable reputation for poor customer service, but as Sky have discovered the hard way, the company has a large kitty of cash to dip into when needed.

BT Sport, launched back in August 2013, announced in October that it had already acquired 2 million subscribers and quickly made a large dent in Sky’s market share, impacting BSkyB’s profits which were down 8%, equating to $472 million. Unsurprisingly, that drop can be traced right back to Sky’s battle with BT over rights to the Premier League, which ended up costing both bidders a combined staggering figure of $4.9 billion.

Sky still has the lions share of the games for now, however BT managed to snap up the rights to televise 38 matches over the current 2013-14 season and the 2014-15 season. As a result, Sky had to pay out an extra $358 million a year for the rights, making its total investment $1.25 billion. But that was just the beginning of their battles.

Later in November, BT again shelled out a massive £900 million for a three-year exclusive deal for the real jewel in the crown; the UEFA Champions League, more than double the value of current contract in place with Sky and ITV. With the seasons to come without a large portion on the domestic football league and European games, Sky’s sport schedule will suddenly start to look very thin for their current customer base. This will be the first time in history that the UEFA Champions League will be wired on one network only, with no share of the spoils.

The rights for future Premier League seasons are soon to be wrapped up so if the past is anything to go by, it could be a fierce battle between Sky band BT and a survival of the fittest will unfold. All we can say is watch this space. UK television is about to change in a big way!