Orange: We'll buy LaLiga matches from Telefónica despite dominant position
Orange Spain, the mobile phone operator, has said that it will pay the asking price to Telefónica to access matches from Spanish soccer's LaLiga despite expressing concerns about Telefónica’s allegedly dominant position in the country's pay-television market.
Meanwhile, rival operator Vodafone is to wait to see the price set by Telefónica before deciding whether to acquire rights. Telefónica is obliged by law to sell on the rights to 50 per cent of the content of its premium channels to third parties at a reasonable price, to guarantee free competition.
In a roundtable at a summit organised by digitalES, Laurent Paillasot, the chief executive of Orange, said: “Telefónica has the football rights and we will have them [too] but we think that this operator has a dominant position in the market to be taken into account by the CNMC [Spain’s competition authority].”
However, Antonio Coimbra, chief executive of Vodafone, claimed: “La Liga has sold the rights with a 15-per-cent inflation. We are expecting a price from Telefónica. We will see whether we buy El Partidazo [the top weekly match] or the Champions League. Subscribers like football but do not like to pay [high] for it. We will take a decision depending on the price.”
Last month, Telefónica claimed the lion’s share of LaLiga’s coveted domestic media rights, as the league raised more than €3.4 billion ($4 billion) from the sale of four packages for the next three-year cycle.
Telefónica picked up lots four and five, which include the first-choice live match from the top division each week, and eight other live matches from each round, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, for which the company will pay €2.94 billion.
Meanwhile, Mediapro, the Spanish sports rights agency and production company, which controls the majority of residential live rights to the top flight at present, landed lot two, comprising free-to-air highlights, and lot seven, including live coverage of all first and second division games in public establishments, for a sum of €480 million over three years.
Telefónica’s outlay, which amounts to €980 million per year, demonstrates that it still sees value in premium soccer, after it had previously questioned the return on investment in the sport.
Telefónica has also inked a €1.08-billion carriage deal with Mediapro, the Spanish sports rights agency and production company, to televise matches from the Uefa Champions League and second-tier Uefa Europa League over the next three seasons.
Mediapro, with its pay-TV partner BeIN Sports, is the holder of exclusive live rights in Spain to the two competitions from 2018-19 to 2020-21 in a deal worth €1.05 billion.