GSRM readies global assault to grow profile and value of Brasileiro
By Jonathan Rest
Brazilian soccer’s top-tier Campeonato Brasileiro has all the ingredients to become a top five league worldwide, but its clubs have been let down by a non-existent international media strategy, new rights-holder Global Sports Rights Management has told Sportcal.
Four months after its bid was accepted, GSRM, a consortium formed by Latin American media executives, finally got confirmation from the CBF, the Brazilian soccer federation, that its four-season international rights deal for Serie A and B was active in the hours leading up to the 2020 season-opener on 8 August.
To get the ball rolling, matches for the first few weeks of the season will exclusively be available in over 80 countries on Fanatiz, the Miami-based over-the-top streaming platform launched by Matias and Raul Rivera, two of the four founders of GSRM.
However, a dedicated global Brasileiro OTT platform to show all matches outside of Brazil is in the process of being established, while an aggressive rights sales strategy is under way, starting in South America.
In an interview with Sportcal, GSRM chief executive Hernan Donnari (pictured), the other founder along with David Belmar, president of 1190 Sport, a South American commercial sports agency, said: “We truly believe Brazilian football has a tremendous opportunity to fly around the world, to be sold and to be seen, based on a few things we have investigated during this process.
“Firstly, the competition itself. It is very competitive - in the last 10 years, there have been eight different champions.
“Secondly, many players from South America play in Brasileiro, both Serie A and B. That provides obvious interest from the region. Further, Brazil is the number one exporter of players worldwide, more than 1,800 per year. That is a huge number and the world sees Brazil as a great talent house every day, every year.
“And finally you have these amazing stadiums, which are part of the legacy of the 2014 World Cup. When you see a game, you recognise the value of the audiovisual product.
“We believe there are great opportunities out there for increasing the value of the Brasileiro around the world.”
The CBF and the clubs had been seeking a long-term partner to help distribute international rights since a three-year deal with commercial broadcasting giant Globo ended in 2018.
It has meant that for the past few seasons, the Brazilian top-flight has essentially been blacked out worldwide.
Donnari, a former senior executive at Fox Sports Latin America, who is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is bemused by the situation.
He said: “There is no reason why if I am in Argentina, I cannot watch a game of the rival team in the Brasileiro that my team will play in the Copa Libertadores. That is something that the market has not solved.
“You can watch many great Argentinian games in Brazil. Why not the other way around? It’s absurd.
“It’s all about making the content available and expanding the reach. We are able to provide that for the clubs, for the fans.”
GSRM’s deal covers international free-to-air, pay-TV, pay-per-view, internet and OTT rights to the two leagues, with a minimum guarantee of $10 million. In addition, there is a revenue-sharing element to the agreement based on sales performance.
Donnari talked up the financial model offered by GSRM, explaining: “We offer an associative model, where we provide a certain level of money by way of a minimum guarantee and on top of that a revenue share.
“What you are doing there is aligning objectives in the long run. So, when you have this model in place you can bet that all clubs will get involved in the product. They will not only say ‘here are your games,’ they will help you. They know that if we do better, we all do better.
“We split the increased value generated over the years with them. That is very key to our success.”
Matches for the upcoming second weekend of the season will once again be made available on Fanatiz, which is providing global distribution.
But Donnari said there are no plans to simply combine the planned Brazilian OTT platform with Fanatiz.
He said: “Fanatiz is a third-party OTT platform for us. On top of that, and indeed it is part of our commitment to Brazilian clubs, there will be a specific Brazilian OTT service that we will market worldwide.
“We will of course rely on the tech know-how and platform that Fanatiz has developed in order to provide for the specific tools we need for the Brasileiro… We are not just claiming we could develop an OTT service. We are telling clubs we will provide you with the high-end technology and proven solution for the Brasileiro.”
Aside from the direct-to-consumer approach, GSRM is embarking on traditional broadcast sales.
Donnari continued: “The time zone is the key, as is relevance. We’ll address South America first, and are in discussions with many networks already. Then going north, Mexico and Central America are a key market, before you obviously get into USA and Canada - big media markets, and growth soccer markets.”
He claimed one deal is close to being finalised in Europe, with “several more” in the pipeline, while in Asia, Japan is an obvious target considering the “strong cultural ties with Brazil” (Brazil is home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan).
Away from media rights sales, GSRM believes there are opportunities to explore in terms of sponsorships, branded content and virtual advertising during broadcasts.
Donnari explained: “When it comes to soccer, Brazil has an opportunity to export more than just a sport, or a competition. We believe a country brand can be exported, associating with specific national brands trying to embrace the world.
“We think Brasileiro as an ambassador is a great and powerful partnership for certain brands, whether it is on the OTT platform, during live games, on a magazine highlights show. We have a number of opportunities to activate brands. We believe that is a revenue generator that was not explored in the past.”
The 40 clubs in Serie A and Serie B will be hoping those revenues are well established by the time the GSRM contract expires at the end of the 2023 season.
By then, GSRM envisages a different property altogether.
Donnari said: “Today the Brasileiro is considered league number nine worldwide, according to various economic research. Within four years, it should be close to making the top five.
“It has the right materials, the right concept. It’s a huge country that develops many, many thousands of players each year. We have a recipe for success.
“It really depends on us now.”