May 14, 2021

Telefónica warns La Liga that it will bid to broadcast football “but not at any price”


The soccer television rights market is heating up again for the summer, when La Liga rights are expected to go up for auction for the next three seasons. The problems experienced by companies such as Mediapro in France and the crisis that the closure of stadiums has caused for professional football is added to the attempt by operators to reduce the cost of the bill. The last to issue a warning in this regard has been Telefónica itself, owner of the League and Champions League rights in Spain.

The president of the Spanish subsidiary, Emilio Gayo, has defended that football is “very important” for Movistar’s television offer and for this reason he has been “interested” in participating in the next auction, which is expected for the summer and that would cover three seasons of the league championship. In the previous one, held in 2018, the company acquired all the rights for almost 3,000 million euros. Now, Gayo assures that he will participate in the auction but “not at any price”, issuing a warning to the leadership of La Liga, led by Javier Tebas.

“The situation of football does not allow the same levels of investment and is linked to the quality of the product you offer,” said Gayo. “We will assess the tender and make decisions when it occurs, but we must put them at their corresponding value,” insisted the head of the teleco in Spain. The executive has indicated, however, that the audience has not been affected and has been confident that it will not change. “He has the same interest as he had,” he pointed out, acknowledging, of course, that clients who had football included in their offers but did not follow it have begun to switch to other products.

Movistar thus joins the warnings that Orange has also made in recent weeks about the high cost of football in Spain. The French company broadcasts the football with the wholesale offer that Telefónica is obliged to give to its rivals, but the management of the subsidiary in Spain has rejected the model for calculating the price it must pay and recently referred to the CNMC to request a change on this invoice. Gayo has indicated that Telefónica “is prepared” to broadcast football alone even if no rival buys it rights to share the cost of broadcasting league competitions.

In the background are the problems that Mediapro has had, the company directed by Jaume Roures, in France, where the gala competition withdrew its television rights for accumulating delays with the neighboring country’s clubs. For Gayo, this case is a sign that “a barrier has been crossed in television rights that cannot be paid for.”

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