NENT's near 30-year grip on Champions League in Denmark, Norway and Sweden over
By Jonathan Rest
Nordic Entertainment Group has retained exclusive rights to the Uefa Champions League in Denmark, but lost its hold on soccer's elite European clubs competition in Sweden and Norway, Sportcal understands.
NENT Group, or Modern Times Group as it was known before the spin-off of the company, has shown the Champions League in the three countries since the tournament’s inception in 1992.
However, the group announced today it had only won the right to continue showing the Champions League in Denmark from 2021-22 to 2023-24, and had also secured rights to the second-tier Europa League and new third-tier Europa Conference League in Sweden, Norway and Finland.
In the present cycle to 2020-21, NENT holds exclusive Champions League rights in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, where it sub-licenses rights to TV2, the commercial broadcaster.
Anders Jensen, NENT Group president and chief executive, said the company, which has committed billions of dollars for premium soccer rights already this year, had "maintained our discipline and not bid up for rights where we cannot generate a return on our investment."
The new Champions League rights-holders in Norway and Sweden have not been announced, but sources in the Nordic region told Sportcal today they believe telecoms firm Telia, which owns TV4 Group, the Swedish commercial broadcasting group, and C More, its pay-TV broadcasting operation, have been successful in the latter country.
The sales process in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway began on 25 February, with bidders given until 10am (CET) on 31 March to submit bids for the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle. Separate tenders were issued in all four countries.
Sportcal reported last week that broadcasters in the Nordic region were annoyed that Uefa and its agency partner Team Marketing had decided to press ahead with the auction, given the industry's focus on the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that has decimated budgets and is threatening jobs.
Indeed late last month, NENT Group announced it would not be paying any rights fees for postponed properties until they recommence, and said it will seek compensation from rights-owners if there are “longer-term” postponements or cancellations.
While the group is financially stable, the coronavirus outbreak has put at risk the company’s stated ambition to deliver profitable growth in 2020 because of a negative impact on advertising demand, which accounted for 26 per cent of the group’s sales in 2019.
The confirmed deal means that from 2021-22, TV2 will lose its grip on Europa League rights in Norway, US media giant Discovery will lose the rights in Sweden and commercial broadcaster MTV3 will miss out in Finland.
At present, MTV3 also televises the Champions League in Finland and Discovery shows the Europa League in Denmark.
NENT Group said the deal with Uefa and Team covers 138 games per season from the Champions League, and 282 games from the Europa League and Europa Conference League.
All matches will be shown on NENT Group’s pan-Nordic streaming service Viaplay, with extensive studio programming and local language commentary in every country.
A wide range of games will also be available as part of NENT Group’s pay-TV offering Viasat, and selected games will be shown on the group’s Swedish, Danish and Norwegian TV channels.
Jensen said: "We have a strong and well-balanced portfolio of sports rights that is unrivalled anywhere, and this outcome ensures that our Viaplay and Viasat customers will be able to enjoy more football than ever before. We are delighted to have extended our Uefa Champions League coverage in Denmark for another three years, and to have added the rights to the Uefa Europa League and new Uefa Europa Conference League in Sweden, Norway and Finland, which many local Nordic teams will compete in."