Mediaset finalises 2018 World Cup rights deal in Spain
By Martin Ross
Mediaset España, the free-to-air commercial broadcaster, will once again show live Spanish coverage of a Fifa World Cup after finalising an agreement for the 2018 tournament.
The broadcasting group, which covered the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, will showcase games from next summer’s competition on its Telecinco and Cuatro channels after reaching a deal for rights to all 64 matches.
Mediaset is understood to be paying just under €35 million ($41.5 million) for the rights.
The commitment to show all games appears to have been key in getting an agreement in a tough market over the line, especially on the back of Mediaset having shown just 23 games from Euro 2016 (leaving only live streaming of other games on the Uefa website).
Mediaset held a package of free-to-air rights to 25 matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, paying around €30 million for rights including all games played by the national team, as well as the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the final.
Having set a bid deadline of 2 May in an invitation to tender, Fifa then entered individual negotiations after initial offers from Mediaset and rival commercial group Atresmedia were said to be below expectations.
The tender process allowed broadcasters to submit offers for the 2022 World Cup as well, but the agreement with Mediaset covers the 2018 tournament only.
Mediaset’s 2018 World Cup rights announcement coincided with Friday's draw for the tournament in Russia, as Spain were drawn with Portugal, Iran and Morocco.
Spain’s disappointing performance at the 2014 tournament did not prevent Mediaset from generating high ratings, as an average of 5.3 million viewers (a 38-per-cent viewing share) watched across 25 games. Mediaset’s highest audience was 13.2 million for Spain’s group-stage match against Chile.
During Spain’s victorious run to the 2010 World Cup title, Mediaset averaged over 6 million viewers, and brought in 14.6 million viewers for the extra-time period in the final against the Netherlands.
GolT, the premium digital terrestrial channel owned by Mediapro, the sports rights agency, bought the pay-TV rights to the 2014 World Cup and showed all 64 matches, 39 of them exclusively.
Telecinco was able to offer extensive coverage from the 2010 World Cup following its merger with rival broadcaster Cuatro, and before the plummet in the advertising market in Spain. The full package of rights to the 2010 tournament was initially acquired by media firm Prisa for around €90 million.