Telefónica remains home of Uefa club competitions in deal valued at €975m
By Simon Ward
Telefónica, the Spanish telecoms giant, has retained rights to European soccer club competitions, including the showpiece Uefa Champions League, for a further three years, and looks set to make a saving on its current indirect deal.
Telefónica announced today it had signed a contract with Uefa for the 2021-24 cycle that includes live coverage on its Movistar Plus pay-TV platform of the Champions League, Europa League, the new Europa Conference League, the Super Cup and the Uefa Youth League.
The rights cover residential properties and horecas (hotels, restaurants, cafes and public places) across Spain and Andorra.
The deal, conducted via the Telefónica Audiovisual Digital subsidiary, is widely reported to be worth €975 million ($1.1 billion) over three years, or €325 million per season.
This represents a reduction of 10 per cent on the €1.08 billion Telefónica is paying for the Champions League and Europa League in the current three-year cycle in a deal with Mediapro, the Spanish media rights and production agency, and BeIN Sports, the international pay-television operator, which originally acquired the rights to the competitions.
It was reported in May that Telefónica was in line to retain the Champions League rights, with the level of competition thought to have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
DAZN, the over-the-top streaming platform that had been linked with the rights, was among various media companies forced to make cutbacks in the face of the economic fallout from the health emergency, which has a particularly serious impact in Spain.
Uefa and its agency partner Team Marketing set a deadline of 10 March for initial bids for Spanish rights to the clubs competitions from 2021 onwards but the sales process has been held up by the pandemic.
On top of the financial saving, Telefónica has the advantage of having been able to agree a deal directly with Uefa and Team.
Mediapro and BeIN had acquired the rights to the Champions League and Europa League from 2018-19 in a three-year, €1.05-billion deal.
They subsequently sold the rights on to Telefónica for €360 million per season although Mediapro does still show one Europa League game involving a Spanish team on each matchday on Gol, its free-to-air channel.
Telefónica will be able to continue recouping its investment in the European club competitions through carriage deals with the likes of rival telecoms firm Orange.
Under rules intended to protect competition in the Spanish media market, Telefónica is obliged to share 50 per cent of its premium content, including sports and movie channels, with other telecoms and OTT services.
Orange recently renewed its carriage deal, including Spanish LaLiga and Champions League and Europa League action and valued at around €300 million per year, for the 2020-21 season.
However, Mediaset España, the Spanish arm of the commercial broadcasting group, which has been showing the games on subscription streaming platform Mitele Plus, did not follow suit.
Telefónica holds premium rights to LaLiga in a three-year deal worth €2.94 billion that came into effect this season.
Welcoming today’s deal, Emilio Gayo, the president of Telefónica Spain, said: “This agreement with Uefa is an important step in Movistar’s strategy linked to the world of sport. Our Movistar Plus platform continues to work after three decades to continue making football accessible in our country.
“A specialised team, the quality of everything surrounding the competition and differential production values are our hallmark. With Movistar, our customer will always have the best sport and the latest technology to guarantee an added value entertainment experience, beyond the broadcasts.”
Guy-Laurent Epstein, the marketing director of Uefa Events, added: “Uefa is delighted to be continuing the distribution of the Uefa Champions League, Uefa Europa League and Uefa Youth League in Spain with Telefónica, as well as the new European club competition, the Uefa Europa Conference League. This partnership ensures the competitions will continue to receive comprehensive exposure, through the delivery of innovative coverage to football fans in Spain.”
With the conclusion of the sales process in Spain for 2021 to 2024, deals for the Uefa club competitions have now been concluded in all of the ‘big five’ European markets bar Italy.
This season’s competitions have been suspended because of the pandemic but are set to be concluded next month with single-leg quarter-finals and semi-finals and the final of the Champions League in Lisbon, and the equivalent rounds of the Europa League in four German cities, including the final in Cologne.