Online Bookmaker To Stream Sports on the Web - Thursday 12th of May 2005

Online bookmaker Blue Square will stream men's professional tennis over its Web site this weekend in a bid to develop a new way to bypass the lack of TV coverage of some sports.The increasing amount of televised live sport has been one of the key factors behind the growth in online gambling, with players far more likely to bet on something they can watch. However, despite the proliferation of channels, many high-profile events still aren't available to UK viewers. To get around this, Blue Square has bought the rights to the SAP (NYSE: SAP) Open final this Sunday in San Jose, Calif. -- a tournament that includes Andre Agassi and last year's winner, Andy Roddick. Future Events If it proves a success, more events will be streamed this year. Future coverage is likely to include sports with even more mainstream appeal."This is very much a toe-in-water thing," said spokesman Ed Pownall. He added, however, "If it goes well we might expand on the idea very quickly. This is the tip of the iceberg of what we have planned."Rival bookies will be watching closely and could soon start chasing similar rights. Streaming matches over their sites is far cheaper than launching a new TV channel, as William Hill did last year, and online rights still cost relatively little. Live Betting With the increase in broadband usage, it is also increasingly commercially viable. Pownall says connection speeds of 300 Kbps should be enough to ensure decent quality pictures.Blue Square will offer full in-running betting during the match, with coverage free to view. However, it's likely to insist that viewers register on the site for any future events.The SAP Open is the second-oldest men's professional tennis tournament in the U.S. and one of 70 contests on the worldwide ATP circuit.

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