Wednesday, 28 June 2017

PlayStation Vue loses access to Premier League games via NBC Sports App authentication

Just weeks after PlayStation Vue subscribers lost access to the beIN SPORTS networks, Vue customers have been dealt another blow this week due to a new product from NBC Sports.

With the pending launch of NBC’s paid subscription service Premier League Pass, PlayStation Vue customers will no longer be able to watch the non-televised Premier League games that have been available in the past by using the PS Vue login credentials to authenticate with the NBC Sports App.

“PlayStation Vue subscribers receive access to the existing linear channels that they always have (e.g. NBCSN),” according to a NBC Sports spokesman. “But, like all MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors), their cable subscription would not grant them access to the 130+ games that are available exclusively on NBC Sports Gold. They would have to purchase that separately (no different than any other MVPD).”

That means that PlayStation Vue subscribers won’t be able to watch an average of 3 of the Saturday 10am-Noon ET Premier League games every weekend, and will have to pay $50 per season to sign up with Premier League Pass so they don’t miss a game.

NBC Sports says that each Premier League club will have at least three matches exclusive to direct-to-consumer live streaming product NBC Sports Gold.

SEE MORE: Premier League Pass marks a giant step backward for NBC’s coverage of EPL

Premier League Pass is part of NBC Sports Gold, which is NBC Sports Digital’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product. Currently, NBC Sports Gold has similar paid subscription passes available for rugby, cycling, motocross and track-and-field.

As of the end of the 2016/17 Premier League season, the only two third-party streaming providers that offered authenticated access to the NBC Sports App were PlayStation Vue and DIRECTV NOW. Streaming providers Sling TV and fuboTV were both in talks with NBC Sports to add authentication to the NBC Sports App, according to several sources. But with the launch of Premier League Pass, the authentication with the NBC Sports App has been thrown out, meaning that Vue and DIRECTV NOW subscribers will lose access to 130 Premier League games per season. They, as with Sling TV and fuboTV subscribers, will still be able to watch Premier League games televised on NBCSN, NBC and CNBC.

NBC Sports’ decision to launch Premier League Pass means that streaming providers will only be allowed to stream EPL games that are shown on television. For some smaller clubs, that could mean as many as 40% to 60% of Premier League matches would only be available via Premier League Pass. (Editor’s note: See how many times your Premier League club was shown on TV last season).

In order to ensure that cord cutters don’t miss any games, they would have to pay $50 extra for Premier League Pass on top of paying for Internet access and a subscription to a streaming service (such as PlayStation Vue). In all, the added $50 could be too much to bear for many.

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Saúl Ñíguez propels Spain into under-21 final with hat-trick against Italy

• Spain U21 3-1 Italy U21
• Saúl Ñíguez hits second-half hat-trick against 10-man Italy

Saúl Ñíguez scored a hat-trick to earn Spain a 3-1 win over 10-man Italy and put them into the final against Germany. The Atlético Madrid midfielder scored his goals in the second half at the Marshal Jozef Pilsudski Stadium.

The 22-year-old put Spain ahead with a finish from just inside the box. Italy then had the midfielder Roberto Gagliardini sent off for a second booking.

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Alves confirms Juventus football club departure

Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus full-back Dani Alves has confirmed that he is leaving the Italian champions after a season in Turin in a posting on his Instagram account on Tuesday.

“Today our professional relationship ends and I will carry away with me all those who truly make Juve a great club,” said the 34-year-old Brazilian in a lengthy post.

Alves, who joined Juve from Barcelona a year ago, has been tipped to team up with his former coach Pep Guardiola at Manchester City but he did not give any indication as to where he will go next.

However, he did add: “I don’t play football for money. I play football because I love this profession and I respect those involved in it…money will never keep me somewhere.”

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Facebook to livestream Champions League football games

New York (AFP) – Facebook will broadcast Champions League matches for American internet users under a deal with Fox Sports, which will host the livestreams on its pages, the channel said Tuesday.

The partnership will involve two group matches per day, four round of sixteen games and the four quarter-finals of the 2017-18 season, in the social media giant’s latest foray into sportscasting.

Facebook will act only as a host for the streams, with the images and content produced by Fox Sports.

A Fox Sports spokesman confirmed that the content would only be available to Facebook users in the United States.

Facebook has already signed partnership with the North American football league Major League Soccer, which will see around 20 matches broadcast in 2017, as well as an agreement with Liga MX, the Mexican championship, for some 40 games last season.

The social media giant, which announced Tuesday it had crossed two billion active monthly users, also signed a deal with Major League Baseball in May for 20 regular season games.

It also enjoys a relationship with the NBA which resulted in January in the broadcast of a game between Sacramento and Golden State, only available in India — a prized market for the North American basketball league.

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VIDEO: Bayern Munich Name Mats Hummels Epic Effort as 'Tackle of the Season'

Bayern Munich have awarded Mats Hummels with the Tackle of the Season - following a public vote - for his incredible effort against Eintracht Frankfurt. Announced on the ​club's official Twitter page, Hummels was crowned with the title which no-one could dare detest. Was there ever any doubt? @matshummels wins the vote for the tackle of the season with this beast of a challenge!  #MiaSanMia http://pic.twitter.com/n1jwQh1h4g — FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) June 27, 2017 The German defender...

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Chelsea Legend Frank Lampard Has Reportedly Spoken to Oxford United About Vacant Manager's Position

Frank Lampard has reportedly held talks with Oxford United over their vacant manager's position following the recent departure of Michael Appleton to Leicester City. With Appleton making the move to Leicester to work as Craig Shakespeare's assistant, Oxford United are on the lookout for his successor, and recently retired Lampard is a seemingly a top contender for the job. BREAKING: Oxford United have spoken to Frank Lampard about vacant manager’s position. #SSNHQ http://pic.twitter.com/xacoXv6Jen —...

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Kurt Zouma Responds to Speculation Over Potential Chelsea Exit in the Summer

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has broken his silence amid increasing speculation surrounding his future at Stamford Bridge, which has seen him linked with a move away from the club in the summer transfer window. ​The 22-year-old suffered a serious knee injury two seasons ago, which saw the promising defender miss a significant chunk of football, resulting in only 13 appearances in all competitions last season under new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. With undeniable talent and ability, Zouma has...

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Game, set and match for AC Milan legend Maldini

Milan (AFP) – Five-time European Cup-winning footballer Paolo Maldini’s tennis career ended abruptly on his debut on Tuesday when the AC Milan legend lost 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round doubles match.

Maldini stepped onto the court at the Milan challenger event as its most decorated sportsman.

But the 49-year-old Italian football legend — whose tennis dream was to “play against Roger Federer” — saw his career hopes dashed with a chastening defeat to doubles specialists David Pel and Tomasz Bednarek while playing alongside his tennis coach Stefano Landonio.

It was a logical defeat, given the players’ ranking history.

Dutchman Pel is ranked 208th in the world while Poland’s Bednarek reached a career high of 44th in 2014, reaching a quarter-final at Roland Garros on the way. Landonio’s highest ever ranking was 975th, in 1996.

Maldini and Landonio were given an invite to the event thanks to their recent victory in an amateur tournament.

But although the Challenger circuit is one level below the elite ATP circuit played by the likes of Federer, it proved a step too far for Maldini and his partner.

Maldini produced a few strong forehands, but showed flaws in his backhand and was well below professional standard on serve.

It was over within an hour, and Maldini said that, as far as his professional tennis career is concerned, it is game, set and match.

“It was a great experience and one I really enjoyed, but I won’t repeat it,” said Maldini, who can nevertheless afford to regard it as a blip in an otherwise sterling career.

A true legend in Italy, and indeed throughout the footballing world, Maldini won 26 trophies with Milan, playing a record 647 matches in Serie A, and won five European Cups on the way.

Maldini earned 126 caps for Italy and was a finalist at both the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000.

He is currently technical director at Miami FC, who play in the NASL, the American second division below Major League Soccer.

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England lose to Germany on penalties in European U21 Championship semi-final

• England U21 2-2 Germany U21
• aet; Germany win 4-3 on pens

We have definitely been here before. Southampton’s Nathan Redmond joined the long list of England penalty shootout villains as Germany progressed to the final of the European Under-21 Championship after a thrilling encounter with Aidy Boothroyd’s side outplayed for large periods.

That they survived an extra-time onslaught from opposition who appeared to possess superior fitness despite having two fewer days to prepare is a testament to their spirit, but that will not make it any easier to bear as they suffered the same fate as Bobby Robson and Terry Venables’s teams at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96.

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Premier League Pass marks a giant step backward for NBC’s coverage of EPL

In their announcement about the pending launch of Premier League Pass, the paid digital subscription service that will offer 130 games per season to soccer fans in the US, NBC Sports have made a giant miscalculation.

On paper, Premier League Pass seems like a harmless attempt to monetize the games that were shown previously on the Premier League Extra Time overflow TV channels. However, on closer inspection, the changes will have big ramifications for all fans of Premier League clubs in the United States.

One of the most important reasons for the success of the Premier League on this side of the Atlantic has been the accessibility of the league. Want to watch every MLS game? No chance, unless you’re willing to subscribe to the MLS Live streaming platform as well as TV providers that carry a host of channels from FOX Sports, ESPN, Univision and regional sports networks.

Not only was the Premier League the most accessible soccer league across US television (even more accessible arguably than Liga MX where some games are only on Azteca America and Telemundo), but the ease of access meant that the Premier League benefitted from discoverability. Bored by a nil-nil draw that failed to live up to its hype? With the NBC Sports App or Premier League Extra Time, viewers could change the channel and seek out a different game that was far more entertaining. On any given Saturday 10am-Noon ET time slot, soccer fans could flip between 3-4 games in that window and oftentimes unearth a “diamond in the rough.”

SEE MORE: Learn more about NBC’s launch of Premier League Pass

In theory, Premier League Pass makes sense. In what is a very difficult climate for broadcasters, networks are collectively losing millions of subscribers who are cutting the cord to save money and watch what they want, when they want and on whatever device they please. Many soccer fans would be willing to pay for a service such as Premier League Pass if it offered access to all 380 games in a Premier League season. But by only offering 130, it means that watching the Premier League in the United States has now suddenly become even more expensive. With cable or satellite bills ranging from $100 to $250 per month to access all of the NBC channels needed, fans of Premier League clubs are now faced with having to pay $50 extra per season to ensure access to all 380 games.

If all 380 games were available via Premier League Pass, I’m certain that a gigantic number of sports fans would pull the plug and sign up for the paid subscription service overnight. And that’s precisely the issue. With the parent company of NBC Sports being Comcast, the last thing that either want right now is for their number of TV subscribers to cut the cord.

By launching Premier League Pass, it’s not only a giant step backwards for NBC Sports, but it’s also a big blow to cord cutters who want to be able to watch all of their favorite programming without restrictions. NBC Sports has created a walled garden around the 130 out of 380 games per season, which represents a sizable 34% of matches during a Premier League season that are off limits unless you’re willing to pay $50 to NBC Sports. That means that even if you’re a subscriber to fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, DIRECTV NOW or any other streaming service, you won’t be able to watch every single game anymore.

Supporters of clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Spurs may not notice much of a difference next season, but even still, each club will have three or more games available exclusively via Premier League Pass. Neutral soccer fans or supporters of the “other 14” clubs will face the difficult decision of either signing up for Premier League Pass to watch all games, or skipping the match and watching something else altogether.

In NBC Sports’ almost flawless run as the custodian of the Premier League to soccer fans in the United States, the peacock has made their first major faux pas in covering the world’s most popular sports league.

The 2017/18 Premier League season kicks off on Saturday, August 12.

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England U21s Lose to Germany on Penalties and Twitter Reacts Exactly How We All Knew it Would

​So...it's happened again hasn't it? This time it will be different, they said. It's a new England, they said. No fear, they said.  Well, THEY were wrong and England U21s lost to Germany in a penalty shootout on Tuesday evening to crash out of the Under-21 European Championship semi-finals. After going to penalties at 2-2, we all knew they were doomed and so it was almost fate when Chelsea's Tammy Abraham and Southampton's Nathan Redmond were denied to hand victory to the Germans. Twitter, in...

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England lose to Germany on penalties in European U21 Championship semi-final

• England U21 2-2 Germany U21
• aet; Germany win 4-3 on pens

We have definitely been here before. Southampton’s Nathan Redmond joined the long list of England penalty shootout villains as Germany progressed to the final of the European Under-21 Championship after a thrilling encounter with Aidy Boothroyd’s side outplayed for large periods.

That they survived an extra-time onslaught from opposition who appeared to possess superior fitness despite having two fewer days to prepare is a testament to their spirit but that will not make it any easier to bear as they suffered the same fate as Bobby Robson and Terry Venables’s teams at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96.

Continue reading...

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Newcastle and West Ham Target Speaks About What He'd Be Looking for in a New Club

​Caen striker Yann Karamoh has outlined what he wants from his new club, should he decide to move away from France. The 18-year old is the subject of interest from Newcastle United, West Ham United and the Bundesliga runners up, Red Bull Leipzig. The Chronicle report that West Ham have stolen a march on the striker, with reports in France suggesting a bid of £8.7m has been made by the Hammers.  West Ham are set to battle RB Leipzig over teenage Caen forward Yann Karamoh #WHUFC (by @J_Quelen) -...

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Ex-France forward Paille dies aged 52

Lyon (AFP) – Former France international forward Stephane Paille, once a teammate of Eric Cantona, has died at the age of 52 following a “devastating illness”, press in the city of Lyon announced on Tuesday.

Newspaper Le Progres reported Paille had died in a Lyon hospital on Tuesday morning.

Paille won eight caps for France in the late 1980s in a career that started at Sochaux and then took him to Montpellier where he played alongside Cantona.

He also had a spell at Lyon in a well-travelled career that took in stints in Portugal and Switzerland and ended in Scotland with Hearts.

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Super-agent Mendes denies in court creating shell companies

Pozuelo de Alarcón (Spain) (AFP) – Football super-agent Jorge Mendes denied Tuesday he helped creat shell companies for his clients during questioning by a Spanish court investigating alleged tax evasion by Monaco striker Radamel Falcao.

He told the closed door hearing in Pozuelo de Alarcon, an upmarket suburb of Madrid where many football stars live, that he “never” advised players in tax matters”, his company Gestifute said in a statement.

Mendes added that “as an agent he is limited to representing athletes in their negotiations with clubs to determine salary conditions in their contracts,” the statement added.

As Spanish authorities tighten the net around footballers such as Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, another Mendes client suspected of fiscal fraud, their advisers and agents are coming under scrutiny too.

Monaco’s Falcao is suspected of failing to correctly declare 5.6 million euros ($6.3 million) of income earned from image rights between 2012 and 2013 while he was at Atletico Madrid.

The Colombian is accused of using a web of shell companies in the British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Colombia and Panama to avoid taxes on the image rights income.

The court notified Mendes during the hearing that he is charged with “suspicion of collaboration in the process” that led Falcao to “commit a tax offence”, a judicial source told AFP.

Wearing a dark suit and black tie, the 51-year-old made no comments as he entered and left the court.

– Falcao’s wife testifies –

Mendes saw the judge just after Falcao’s Argentine wife Lorelei Dahiana Taron, who is merely appearing as a witness, a judicial source told AFP.

His company Gestifute had already denied any wrongdoing.

“Neither Jorge Mendes nor the company he manages, Gestifute, participate in or offer any service linked, directly or indirectly, to financial, fiscal or legal advice to their clients,” it said earlier this month.

But it is emerging that some of the clients of the man who has been elected “best agent of the year” several times at the Globe Soccer Awards are being targeted by tax fraud investigations.

Ronaldo himself, the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes, is due to be questioned by a Spanish judge on July 31 after allegedly evading 14.7 million euros in taxes.

Fabio Coentrao, the Portugal international who also plays for Real Madrid, is suspected of having hidden close to 1.3 million euros in revenues.

And Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, another Mendes client, has been accused of failing to pay millions of euros in taxes during his time in charge of Real Madrid.

In this case though, Mendes’ company Gestifute said Mourinho had resolved the situation with tax authorities.

– Football Leaks –

Mendes, a former nightclub manager, found himself in the eye of the storm last year in the “Football Leaks” media investigation into alleged soccer corruption.

Based on millions of documents, the investigation claims he offered his clients ways to avoid paying taxes on some of the money they earned.

According to the EIC media consortium he allegedly helped them evade a total of 185 million euros in advertising revenues “via a network of shell companies and offshore accounts in Ireland, in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Switzerland.”

To do so Mendes allegedly used Irish firm Polaris, an accusation he denied in court on Tuesday.

The agent told the hearing that Polaris “is not managed by him and is dedicated exclusively to finding advertisers for clients,” the Gestifute statement said.

Born to an oil industry worker in Lisbon, Mendes left the Portuguese capital aged 19 to enter the business world in the northern provincial town of Viana do Castelo.

A video rental business which he opened became a successful venture and soon he would meet Portugal keeper Nuno Espirito Santo in a disco he was also running.

A former semi-professional footballer himself, Mendes set about cultivating close links to players, creating his own network and starting to look afer their interests. 

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