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England web tie appears a success

Football coverage in a cinema
England fans watch the game in a cinema in London's Leicester Square

The first England game to be shown exclusively on the internet appears to have been a success as fears of a technology meltdown went unfounded.

Fans paid to watch England lose 1-0 in Ukraine, with UK cinemas also screening Saturday's World Cup qualifier.

International football agency Kentaro and media group Perform said viewing numbers were "close to half a million", hailing the project a "great success".

Some supporters complained of a lack of atmosphere and slow streaming speeds.

Perform streamed the tie from Dnipropetrovsk while the BBC broadcast the game's highlights on Saturday night.

With the payment to see the game online rising from £4.99 last week to £11.99 on Saturday, the number of subscriptions was estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000, but final viewing figures will not be released, according to the companies involved.

The viewing figure of under 500,000 also includes figures for the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), which screened the game free for troops, as well as those who watched it in cinemas and online.

Kentaro - an international agency appointed by the Ukrainian Football Federation - originally sold the UK rights for the game to Setanta.

But after the pay-TV firm collapsed, digital sport specialist Perform was appointed to stream the match online with the traditional broadcasters understood to be unwilling to pay the asking price.

606: DEBATE
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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.

The BBC was granted the highlights rights after last-minute negotiations, with part of the deal stipulating the announcement would be made after the match which saw keeper Robert Green sent off and Sergiy Nazarenko score a first-half winner for Ukraine.

Although some fans complained about the lack of atmosphere, slow streaming speeds and the lack of licensed premises showing the game, the two companies were delighted with the "pioneering broadcast".

A joint statement by Kentaro and Perform said: "There were no technical issues and all customer enquiries were responded to within five minutes."

Philipp Grothe, Kentaro chief executive, added: "Not only have we delivered Britain's largest ever live pay-to-view internet sports audience but commercially the venture has proved itself as a viable model for future games."

"Technology has ignited a revolution in people's viewing habits and there is a new sports broadcast platform developing on the broadband enabled internet."

Peter Silverstone, Kentaro's managing director, said Perform "pulled off a technical coup in a few short weeks", while Andrew Croker, Perform's executive chairman, described it as "an extremely successful and groundbreaking project".

Perform already stream around 8,000 games per year - including the Manchester City and Tottenham matches in the Uefa Cup last year.

It is believed nearly 100,000 fans accessed the web for the Manchester City friendly at Barcelona in August this year which was being streamed without charge on the Premier League club's website.

Ukraine v England

Highlights - Ukraine 1-0 England



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see also
Ukraine 1-0 England
10 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Saturday's football as it happened
10 Oct 09 |  Football
International football photos
10 Oct 09 |  Football
England fans set for web-only tie
09 Oct 09 |  Internationals
England match to be internet only
05 Oct 09 |  Internationals
England 'must improve 2018 bid'
07 Oct 09 |  Football
FA does not control away rights - Bevington
05 Oct 09 |  Internationals


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