Mediaset dropping soccer packages in Spain; Turner 'ends US deal for Champions League'
Spanish soccer fans will only be able to watch the domestic LaLiga and Europe’s Uefa Champions League on the platforms of telecoms firms Telefónica and Orange next season after commercial broadcaster Mediaset decided against renewing its agreement to carry the competitions on its subscription streaming platform Mitele Plus.
Telefónica holds the premium rights to LaLiga and European clubs competitions, which go out on its pay-television platform Movistar Plus.
However, under rules intended to protect competition in the Spanish media market, the company is obliged to share 50 per cent of its premium content, including sports and movie channels, with rival telecoms and over-the-top services.
France-based Orange has renewed its carriage deal, valued at around €300 million ($337 million) per year, so LaLiga, Champions League and Europa League matches will continue to be available via its Love and Jazztel services in the 2020-21 season.
However, Mediaset España, the Spanish arm of the Italy-based broadcasting group, which has been showing the games on Mitele Plus in the current campaign, has not followed suit.
It is understood that take-up for the platform has been lower than expected with only 130,000 paid subscribers, of which 60 per cent had taken up soccer packages.
A combined package for both LaLiga and Champions League and Europa League games is priced at €35 per month.
Following a three-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic the Spanish league resumed this month, while Uefa is planning to conclude its suspended club competitions, in contracted form, with events in Portugal and Germany in August.
The Spanish arm of Vodafone, another leading telecoms company, decided to drop soccer at the start of the 2018-19 season, citing the cost involved, while other prominent media operators Mediapro and DAZN have not sought tie-ups with Telefónica.
Carriage deals have enabled Telefónica to recoup some of its significant investment in soccer, including the lion's share of LaLiga rights in a three-year, €2.94 billion deal which came into effect this season, and the European club competitions in a three-year €1.08 billion agreement with Mediapro, which commenced in 2018-19.
It was reported in April that Telefónica was set to retain the Champions League rights until 2024 but this has yet to be confirmed.
Elsewhere, Uefa is reported to seeking a new broadcaster for the Champions League in USA next season after Turner Sports opted out of its deal.
Turner had one year to go on its three-year deal as the English-language broadcaster of the competition, which has included streaming on Bleacher Report.
However, it has now exercised an exit clause, according to Sports Business Journal.
The US deals with Turner and Univision, which retains Spanish-language rights to the Champions League, are understood to be worth $100 million per year, of which Turner contributes $60 million.
It is reported that Uefa has yet to engage with other broadcasters over English-language coverage in the 2020-21 season but national network CBS is the favourite having already landed the rights for the next three-year cycle.
There could also be interest from other major sports players such as ESPN, Fox, NBC and Amazon.
CBS and Univision won the rights to the Champions League and Europa League from 2021-22 to 2023-24 last November in a deal reported to be worth around $150 million per year.