LaLiga sets deadline of 20 June for bids for unsold domestic rights to 2016-17 season onwards
By Simon Ward
LaLiga, the Spanish professional soccer league, today launched a new tender for domestic free-to-air television and internet rights to its competitions for the next three seasons, making several minor changes following recommendations from the competition regulator.
The rights remained unsold after the bids did not match the reserve price in three rounds in a previous auction.
LaLiga has set a deadline of 1pm on 20 June for bids to be received, and expects to award the contracts that day, and have them formalised by 22 June.
Four of the five packages of unsold rights are intended for free-to-air television, and the other for subscription-based internet operators, and all cover the period 2016-17 to 2018-19.
The four free-to-air packages that are back on the market are: Package 1, comprising one second-choice first-division LaLiga match per round, live and exclusive, (excluding all Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Atlético Madrid matches and those of any club playing in European competition) to kick off at 8.30pm on Fridays; Package 2, comprising one second-choice match per round from the Copa del Rey, live and exclusive, excluding the final, and first pick rights for the semi-final round; Package 3, comprising exclusive free-to-air highlights of a maximum of 12 minutes; and Package 4, comprising four second-choice second-division matches per round, live and exclusive.
Package 5 comprises exclusive delayed on-demand rights to all matches for subscription-based internet operators.
The draft tender was amended slightly following a review by the CNMC, the Spanish competition authority, which wanted assurances that pay-TV operators be excluded from showing matches in the final two rounds of the LaLiga season (rounds 37 and 38) in the first package at the expense of free-to-air broadcasters.
However, the league has now clarified that the pay-TV broadcasters will only be able to provide live excerpts of the matches, which will otherwise be shown in their entirety on free-to-air television.
LaLiga has also adhered to other recommendations from the CNMC including that the number of matches in the fourth package, relating to the second division, be reduced from six to four.
One change not requested by the competition authority is that joint bids will be accepted, which raises the prospect that regional broadcasters could team up to acquire rights, and then divide matches between them depending on the level of local interest.
In addition, the league is asking bidders for the Copa del Rey to submit two bids, one taking into account that the semi-finals could be played over two legs, as is the case at present, or one leg, as it is considering introducing a season-ending ‘final four’.
The rules for tender are available, in Spanish, at http://files.laliga.es/201606/02115440bases-para-la-solicitud-de-ofertas-02-06-16.pdf
LaLiga did not receive acceptable offers for the packages for 2016-17 to 2018-19 at the end of last year, with the bids totalling around €25 million ($27.9 million) per year when the league was targeting in excess of €30 million.
Having returned to collective selling of rights after two decades of individual deals, the league has already brought in a combined record total of €2.95 billion from the sale last December of its two premium live rights packages to Mediapro, the sports rights agency (€1.9 billion) and Movistar Plus, the IPTV pay-TV service operated by telecoms giant Telefónica (€750 million), and the 'bar and pub' rights to a consortium comprised of telecoms firms Vodafone and Orange (€300 million).
Spanish listed events legislation stipulates that one first division match per round must be offered on fair and reasonable terms to free-to-air television, but, contrary to rules in place several years ago, accepts that the match excludes matches of giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, or any other club playing in European competition.
In the one-year deal for the 2015-16 season, which constituted a “bridge” year between the end of the individual rights selling era and the new collective selling system, public-service broadcaster TVE held two free-to-air packages, comprising the rights to one free-to-air first division match each round, and extended highlights, for which it paid €25 million in total.
It is understood that TVE bid for the free-to-air rights in all three rounds of the last auction, but that its total offer equated to less than the amount it was paying last season.
LaLiga said at the time that it was “disappointed” that the bids submitted by TVE and other broadcasters, thought to include commercial networks Mediaset and Atresmedia, were so low.
|Rights in new LaLiga auction|
|Package 1||Free-to-air TV||One first division match per round, live and exclusive, second choice (excluding all Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Atlético Madrid matches and any club playing in European competition) at 8.30pm on Fridays.|
|Package 2||Free-to-air TV||One match per round from the Copa del Rey, live and exclusive, second choice (excluding the final). First choice for the semi-final round.|
|Package 3||Free-to-air TV||Exclusive highlights of all matches of a maximum of 12 minutes.|
|Package 4||Free-to-air TV||Four second division matches per round, live and exclusive, second choice.|
|Package 5||Internet||All matches on-demand, exclusive and delayed.|