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Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 17:11 UK

England fans set for web-only tie

WORLD CUP QUALIFIER: Ukraine v England
Venue: Dnipro Arena Date: Saturday, 10 October Kick off: 1715 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website, live video available at ukrainevengland.com (subscription required)


Frank Lampard and John Terry
The England match will be limited to a maximum of one million subscribers

England fans will have to subscribe online to watch live coverage of the World Cup qualifier in Ukraine.

It is being streamed on a pay-per-view basis, with the cost having risen from £4.99 earlier this week to £11.99 on the day of the match in Dnipropetrovsk.

All previously broadcast England fixtures have been available on TV.

Kentaro, the company behind the web-only match, has declined to reveal how many subscribers have signed up to see the game at www.ukrainevengland.com.

But digital sport specialist Perform, which is providing the technology to stream the match on the internet, claims the internet first for England is heading for success.

Chairman Andrew Croker said: "We are not issuing any numbers, we are going to talk about that after the game, but it is going absolutely fine. People are signing up.

"People have polarised views about it, but people have always had polarised views about new technology or ways of viewing sports over the years.

606: DEBATE
Homesick

"There has been a very sensible debate about it.

"I think if it had been a critical match it would have got quite emotional but, as it is, I am astonished at the level of interest.

"I don't think it is any tipping point in terms of new media because people have been streaming live sport for quite a long time now. This has just caught the public's imagination."

Some supporters' groups have voiced their anger over being unable to see England in action on TV.

But as Fabio Capello's team have already qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, the level of demand for internet-only pay-per-view has been hard to gauge.

Kentaro, an international agency appointed by the Ukrainian Football Federation, has said it is taking a maximum of one million subscribers for the match.

Sports broadcaster Setanta was originally scheduled to screen the fixture but, after its collapse, the rights became available.

However, it is understood none of the UK's traditional broadcasters were willing to pay the asking price to screen the match live, which kicks off at 1715 BST.

As well as on the internet, the tie will also be shown live at 11 Odeon cinemas across the country. The match will not be available in pubs or clubs.

Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has been hired as a studio pundit alongside presenter James Richardson, while commentary will be provided by Tony Jones and David Pleat.

Perform, which already stream around 8,000 games per year, says it is confident that the picture quality will be high and its systems can handle heavy demand.

However, web experts are questioning whether the network can cope if Kentaro achieves its target.

"I think a million concurrent streams will not work on top of normal video traffic," said Graham Moore, from web traffic management firm Zeus Technology.

"If the technology fails, it will have a huge effect on whether customers use the internet to watch live games in this way again and will damage the online brand reputation of those involved."

ITV has the rights to home England games and, under the terms of their contract, has taken over Setanta's broadcast rights for away friendlies, but not qualifying games.



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see also
Ukraine 1-0 England
10 Oct 09 |  Internationals
England match to be internet only
05 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Rooney revels in Ronaldo struggle
09 Oct 09 |  Internationals
James keen to regain England spot
07 Oct 09 |  Internationals
England 'must improve 2018 bid'
07 Oct 09 |  Football
Walcott left out of England squad
04 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Fit players key to 2010 - Capello
03 Oct 09 |  Internationals
FA does not control away rights - Bevington
05 Oct 09 |  Internationals


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