Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Snooker: Matchroom Launches New Tournament

The original article can be found here. I've also copied the original article into this post and I've discussed the new venture below the article.


MATCHROOM Sport and the recently merged Premium TV / Inform Group have launched a new snooker event - The Championship League Snooker.

Staged over 20 days between February and May, 2008, the competition will be a league for some of the world's best players, solely broadcast on and funded by internet distribution.

There is a massive incentive as the eventual winner will take the seventh and final place for the 2008 Premier League Snooker tournament, which will be played out in front of packed crowds (pictured above) across the country and shown live on Sky Sports.

The Championship League Snooker will also have a total prize fund of £200,000 with money awarded for every frame won as well as substantial sums for reaching the latter stages.

In a world first, all aspects of the Championship League Snooker will be optimised specifically for an internet audience, with matches scheduled between Monday and Thursday so not to coincide with major football competitions.

All sessions will play between 2pm and 10pm to maximise both workplace and home viewing in Europe and Asia, snooker's biggest two regions in terms of fan base. Live coverage will be exclusively for the Internet.

Premium TV / Inform have already started distribution discussions and expect The Championship to be distributed by a variety of major portals, internet service providers, web TV and betting websites globally.

The competition will originally feature seven of the top players from the World Rankings who may not be picked automatically for the 2008 Premier League Snooker.

These seven men will then play each other in a round-robin basis and the top four players will play in semi-finals, then finals with the winner qualifying for the final phase.

However, the competitors finishing in the bottom two spots of the league will be eliminated but those who have not advanced to the final or been knocked out will move into the second group. They will then be joined by a further three players for another league phase.

The process is repeated until seven qualifying groups, featuring a total of 25 players, have been played. Only the winners of each group will advance to the last round.

This final phase will also be played in a league basis with the overall champion clinching a spot in the main 2008 Premier League Snooker competition.

Matchroom Sport chairman Barry Hearn said: "This will be a very exciting Championship.

"The players, venue, staging, cameras and production will all be of the usual highest quality but the distribution will be a completely new phenomenon for sport.

"We are delighted to be partners in such a forward-thinking initiative that could help fund all sorts of new sports leagues around the world."

Simon Denyer, Joint CEO of Premium TV/Inform Group, said: "The launch of Championship League Snooker illustrates how far the internet and our company have come. We have spent recent years helping major rights holders monetise digital rights that have been seen as marginal.

"This shows that the internet can now be the lead medium for some sports and we look forward to a great working relationship with Matchroom and the players."

Matchroom Sport will stage the event to its usual exceptionally high standards while Premium TV/Inform Group will produce all coverage using purpose built internet-based delivery broadcasting equipment.


Additional points/discussion

Here and here is a bit more information on Premium TV and Inform Group's merger.
Here's Premium TV's take on the new snooker tournament (similar to Matchroom's obviously).

This has to be good news for snooker and snooker professionals who want to play top quality snooker against top professionals and also gives them the ability to earn good money.

I have to say that press release doesn't really explain the format very well. Yes I understand that there will be a qualifying league of 7 players that will presumably be played under shot clock conditions (and this is only a presumption) like the main Premier League tournament. The winner will be entered into the Premier League tournament along with 6 invitees. Then a new qualifying league is created from next 4 highest ranked players from the qualifying tournament plus what I guess would be 3 wildcards as the bottom 2 players are ejected from the league.

What I don't fully understand is how the tournament ends up with 25 players and 7 qualifying groups. I guess this will become clearer as time goes on. I'll try to get some more information from matchroom.

Another interesting development is that the tournament will be shown exclusively live on the internet!! This may well be done through Premium TV/Inform Group's proprietary channels, and So it looks like this could essentially be pay per view snooker via the internet.

Not everybody likes watching TV through the internet and most people's attention span for this kind of viewing is for only the short clips, the kind you would see on YouTube. I have a Mac Mini hooked up to a 50" plasma TV, so I know I can get a pretty good viewing experience through the internet. I dare say most people don't have this kind of set-up yet and watching TV through the internet can still be a bit complicated for the layman which essentially cuts off a huge market for companies that are trying to utilise it. Content I watch is free content in the form of podcasts and up to now I've never considered paying for live streaming content through the internet. I'm still not sure whether or not I'll do it for this new snooker tournament even though I'm a huge snooker fan. It should be interesting to see how successful the concept is. I'm clearly going to have to do some more research! But well done to Barry Hearn for seeing through this new, innovative, and possibly risky concept.


Gwynston said...

This is how I understand the convoluted format:
7 play round-robin, with the top 4 advancing to a semi-final knockout. The winner advances to a "winner's group". The bottom 2 drop out, while 3 new invitees come in and the format is repeated, with one further player advancing to the "winner's group".

This happens 7 times and the 7 players in the "winners group" then play each other to determine the one player who advances to the Premier League.

It's a bit too complicated for it's own good though. And I have real doubts about the likely size of the internet audience. Although I suppose there are potentially a lot of viewers in China...

andy said...

Right!! That would seem to work. So there are no invitees for the main 2008 Premier League tournament. Everybody has to qualify!! (6*3) + 7 = 25 players! Yes, it's certainly a complicated/convoluted qualifying format. But the 7 best players should end up in the 2008 Premier League. I wonder if Barry Hearn's best mate Steve Davis will qualify, hasn't he played in all of the Premier Leagues ever played!? :o)

andy said...

My last comment wasn't quite right!

Now I've got it! :o)

7 groups plus a winner's group. The winner of each of the 7 groups play in the winner's group, and the winner of that group takes the 7th spot in the 2008 Premier League.


Gwynston said...

Like, duh!