Incumbents retain Europa League rights in the Netherlands and Czech Republic
By Martin Ross
Extensive Uefa Europa League coverage will continue to be aired in the Netherlands by Fox Sports, the pay-TV broadcaster, in a new three-year deal that runs until the end of the 2020-21 season.
Fox Sports has announced that it has retained an extensive package of rights to Europe’s second-tier clubs competition, as has pay-TV’s Nova Sport in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in an agreement also announced today.
The rights secured by Fox Sports in the Netherlands cover all 205 Europa League games per season.
RTL, the commercial network, currently holds a package of free-to-air rights to the tournament, while Perform, the international digital sports content and media group, holds a package of clips rights.
Rob Labree, Fox Sports’ director of programming and production, remarked: “The Uefa Europa League suits us and is part of our make up. Since the introduction of the Uefa Europa League in 2009, we have continuously broadcast the competition live and with a significant contribution from the Dutch clubs as a general rule.”
That contribution has been minimal this season with Vitesse Arnhem, the Eredivisie’s only representative in the group stages, finishing bottom of their section.
However, Fox Sports could benefit next season as the Netherlands has a minimum of three slots in the Europa League, and the Dutch contingent could rise to five if the Eredivisie champions and runners-up fail to negotiate the Uefa Champions League qualifying rounds.
The Europa League deals in the Netherlands during the current cycle (2015-16 to 2017-18) are thought to bring in around €6 million ($7.3 million) per season.
Team Marketing, Uefa’s appointed agency for club competitions, kicked off the Europa League rights sales process in the Netherlands on 31 October, issuing a first-round bid deadline of 27 November.
A concurrent Champions League sales process was also launched and Ziggo, the telecoms and cable operator, retained rights for the next cycle. The operator currently shows games behind a pay wall on its Ziggo Sport Totaal subscription channels, but, from 2018-19, will be able to offer some games on its ‘free’ Ziggo Sport channel available to all customers.
Ziggo and SBS, the Dutch free-to-air commercial broadcaster, are the incumbent Champions League rights-holders in the Netherlands in deals worth €21 million per season.
The major Champions League free-to-air rights package in the Netherlands also remains unsold for the next cycle after unsatisfactory first-round bids.
Czech status quo Rights to the Europa League were retained by Nova Sport from 2018-19 to 2020-21 in an agreement covering both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Nova said that it would offer its customers at least four games per match day, describing the competition as “one of the pillars” of its broadcast schedule.
Europa League coverage will be split across the Nova Sport 1 and Nova Sport 2 channels, plus the Voyo online portal.
Team went to market in the Czech Republic and Slovakia shortly after the Netherlands, issuing a bid deadline of 4 December.
Meanwhile, Ceska Televize, the Czech public-service broadcaster, announced today that it has retained a package of Europa League rights and will have the first pick of matches.
In addition, Ceska Televize has sealed an agreement with the CAA Eleven agency for rights to qualifying matches to the 2020 Uefa European Championships and the 2022 Fifa World Cup, along with rights to the Euro 2020 finals themselves.
The rights package also includes the Uefa Nations League, a new international tournament beginning in September.
Ceska Televize, which also holds rights to the 2022 World Cup, showed Euro 2016 as a guarantor of the 26-territory agreement struck by the European Broadcasting Union.
The public broadcaster also has rights to the first-pick Tuesday evening Champions League match at present (plus highlights and magazine programmes), with extensive coverage of the elite clubs competition offered on the Telefónica-owned IPTV operator O2 TV.
Czech clubs Slavia Prague, Viktoria Plzen and FC Zlin all took part in this season’s Europa League group stages, but no home side has appeared in the group stages of the Champions League since Viktoria Plzen got that far in the 2013-14 season.