Doubts over ITV football deal

Despite the assertions from the ITV executive chairman, Michael Grade, that the broadcaster has paid the "right price" for live rights to FA Cup and England matches, some media agencies have expressed doubts that it will make a return on the deal.

Last week, ITV and Setanta were successful in a £425 million bid for the rights, with ITV spending an estimated £275 million over four years for its package of games. Grade said the cost of the rights, around £70 million a year, would come from ITV's £1 billion programming budget.

Matthew Platts, the managing partner at Vizeum UK, said: "ITV has already invested heavily in football with the Champions League and the World Cup, and there is evidence to say from an ROI point of view that it doesn't work. Commercially, from the point of view of ITV, it might struggle to make this pay. From an advertiser's point of view, it's great that ITV is investing in quality content and is able to compete with Sky."

ITV and Setanta snatched the rights from the BBC and Sky. Coverage of home England international matches and key FA Cup games will begin in 2008.

ITV and Setanta paid £125 million more for the rights than the BBC and Sky did for the current deal. Setanta's capture of further football rights follows its deal to show a third of live Premiership football matches, which starts from next season.