Vuelta seeks RTVE renewal amid internationalisation drive
The organisers of cycling’s Vuelta a Espana, the Grand Tour event in Spain, are in negotiations with public-service broadcaster RTVE to extend the domestic rights deal for the race, but are determined to increase international exposure, in part through digital coverage and taking stages to other countries.
TVE’s current four-year deal expires after the 2020 Vuelta, and it looks certain to retain the rights given the desire for national free-to-air coverage.
However, race organiser Unipublic, which is owned by ASO, the company also behind the Tour de France, is also looking at ways to increase the international audience through a multi-platform strategy.
Javier Guillén, the general director of the Vuelta, told the Palco23 website: “With RTVE we have a contract until 2020, but we are talking about extending it. The intention is to continue with them, because nobody would see it [the race] otherwise.”
Despite budget cuts in recent years, RTVE has remained committed to Vuelta, and is reported to pay around €2.5 million ($2.8 million) per year under its current rights agreement.
The European Broadcasting Union, the umbrella body of public-service broadcasters, has a deal for the rest of the continent, also running to 2020, but Guillén sees a need to increase the international visibility and impact, saying: “TVE broadcasts 180 minutes a day live, but the rest depends on us and ASO. We are working on improving the production of content and distribution through different platforms globally.”
The 2020 Vuelta starts with three stages in the Netherlands, beginning in Utrecht, and taking the event beyond the Spanish borders is increasingly regarded as a productive means of popularising the race.
Guillén said: “We are a global event, proof of the growth comes from being closer to strong and consolidated audiences, such as the Dutch, and the only way is to offer the brand in person.”
Next year will be the only the fourth time that the Vuelta starts outside Spain, but Guillén claimed that the plan is to go abroad once every four to six years from now on.
He said that taking the race abroad is “a way to put a value on the strength of the event because to go to another country you need to be loved and to have the ability to do it, since it requires a huge logistics deployment.”
Guillén added: “We have always valued tourism in Spain through La Vuelta, but taking it out of our borders means that the aficionado values the new proposals and knows other routes and landscapes.”
This year's Vuelta starts in Torrevieja in the south-east Spanish province of Alicante on 24 August, and finishes in Madrid on 15 September.