Russian Premier League wants more August games on free-to-air TV

Russian football’s Premier League is in talks with executives at Gazprom about the possibility of making more of next month’s games available on the state-controlled conglomerate’s free-to-air broadcaster NTV.

The league has shifted all games to evening kick-offs in August to combat a heat wave that has left many players struggling in the opening weeks of the campaign. However, the league is concerned that the later kick-offs will lead to a drop in attendances and a resulting loss of exposure for the league, unless more free-to-air coverage can be secured.

“Until the month of September, matches will start no earlier than 5pm, dependent on weather conditions,” the league said. “The question of broadcasting the matches in each round on the generally accessible NTV channel is being discussed with the management of the television company.”

Under the terms of a new three-year deal, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, NTV’s pay-television sister channel, NTV Plus, has the non-exclusive rights to show games alongside the league’s own new domestic pay-television channel, with free-to-air channel NTV due to broadcast one game per week.

The league started earlier this month, but players have been struggling with the heat, particularly in the Caucasus region, where daytime temperatures have been reaching 40 degrees Celsius.