Setanta is a sports broadcaster that emerged from an Irish dance hall in West London in the 1990s. Since 2004 it has grown rapidly, acquiring major sporting rights and acting as something of a rival to Sky. However, Setanta has now gone into administration following the collapse of talks with a US investor, its failure to pay a number of sporting organisations and the loss of its English Premier League games. Having less than 60% of the annual subscribers needed, and competing against Sky, it is hardly surprising that this broadcaster has now exited the industry. But, what are the reasons behind this collapse? Marketing, advertising, pricing, the recession or dominance by its competitors? What will be the impact of this bankruptcy on its employees, the Pay TV market, sporting organisations and its customers?
Offer made for stake in Setanta BBC News (12/6/09)
Troubled sports channel stops broadcasting CBBC Newsround (24/6/09)
Setanta goes off air with loss of more than 200 jobs Guardian, James Robinson, Leigh Holmwood (23/6/09)
Blavatnik offers Setanta lifeline BBC News, Robert Peston (12/6/09)
Last-ditch effort to save Setanta BBC News (9/6/09)
Football’s minnows braced to take full force of Setanta collapse Guardian, Owen Gibson (24/6/09)
UFC: After Setanta divorce where now: Bravo, Viring, Channel 5 or Sky? Telegraph, Gareth Davies (23/6/09)
Setanta sports taken off air in Britain Times Online, Dan Sabbagh (23/6/09)
- How was Setanta able to expand so quickly? Is this part of the reason for its failure?
- Premium content, such as Premier League matches, is already dominated by BSkyB. What does the collapse of Setanta mean for the structure of the Pay TV market?
- What reasons could explain Setanta’s inability to attract sufficient subscribers? Is its collapse a consequence of the recession, or are there other factors? What are they?
- Who will lose out from Setanta’s bankruptcy? Think about all those connected with Setanta. What will happen to the Scottish Premier League, which has paid the SPL clubs out of its own pocket? Will it get this money back?
- Do you think there were any other options open in a bid to rescue Setanta? If Ofcom had stepped in to regulate the industry, would it have made a difference?
The following articles look at a recently published book by George Akerlof of the University of California, Berkeley, and Robert Shiller of Yale. They examine the role of what Keynes called ‘animal spirits’ and is the title of the book.
The motivation to make economic decisions (to buy, to sell, to invest, etc) may not be ‘rational’ in the sense of carefully weighing up marginal costs and marginal benefits. Rather it can be one of over-optimism in good times or over-pessimism in bad times. Just as individuals have ‘mood swings’, so there can be collective mood swings too. After all, confidence, or lack of it, is contagious. This motivation that drives people to action is what is meant by animal spirits.
But are animal spirits a blessing to be nurtured or a curse to be reined in? Should governments seek to constrain them?
An economic bestiary The Economist (26/3/09)
Good Government and Animal Spirits Wall Street Journal (23/4/09)
Irrational Exuberance New York Times (17/4/09)
Animal Spirits: A Q&A With George Akerlof Freakonomics: New York Times blog (30/4/09)
- Describe what is meant by ‘animal spirits’ and their effects on human behaviour.
- Why may animal spirits make economies less stable?
- How may animal spirits help to explain exchange rate overshooting?
- Discuss whether governments should seek to constrain animal spirits and make people more ‘rational’? Also consider what methods governments could/should use to do this?
The first linked article below is from the American business magazine Forbes. It looks at the economics of football (‘soccer’) signings and, in particular, that of Robinho by Manchester City. In September 2008 the club was bought by an Abu Dhabi investment fund, controlled by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for £210 million. But does the investment in new players make good business sense?
Also, what should determine whether a club sells a player? The third link below considers this issue. The link is to the Embedding Threshold Concepts (ETC) site at Staffordshire University. ETC was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL). The site has a number of teaching and learning resources.
City of Dreams Forbes (8/4/09)
Man City beat Chelsea to Robinho BBC Sport (1/9/08)
Selling footballers: the economic viewpoint ETC reflective exercise
- Was it consistent with the goal of profit maximisation for Manchester City pay Real Madrid £32.5 million for Robinho? Was it consistent with the goal of profit maximisation for Real Madrid to sell him?
- If Real Madrid had decided to keep Robinho, how would you estimate the cost of doing so?
- What difficulties are there in developing Manchester City into a ‘global brand’?
- In what sense are the top Premier League clubs a ‘self-perpetuating oligopoly’?
One of the industries always hard hit by any economic downturn is the building and construction industry. The three articles below look at different aspects of the construction downturn. The building industry in Spain (article 1) has been particularly hard hit, perhaps because of the previous scale of the boom. When there is a recession, different industries are always hit in different ways, depending on the nature of the demand they face. Construction and building can be very badly affected as much of the expenditure on them is ‘investment’ expenditure and this will often be delayed in times of economic downturn.
Building boom reduced to ruins by collapse of Spain’s economic miracle Guardian (19/1/09)
Housing starts lowest since 1924 as construction bears brunt of recession Guardian (15/12/08)
UK construction activity slumps to record low Times Online (5/1/09)
- Write a short paragraph explaining the current state of the construction industry in the UK.
- Explain the accelerator theory.
- Discuss the extent to which the accelerator theory might help to explain the current state of the construction industry in the UK and Spain.
The possibility of recession in the UK, the USA and Europe has attracted a great deal of media attention and in this podcast Andy Beharrell considers whether there is any real evidence of recession. The podcast considers the definition of recession, the causes of recession and the different approaches taken by governments to try to keep their economies out of recession. While the UK and Europe have adopted essentially rules-based policy approaches, the USA has taken a more interventionist and discretionary approach with a significant loosening of both monetary and fiscal policy.