Liga MX eyes switch to centralised media rights model
By Jonathan Rest at Leaders Sports Business Summit
A centralisation of broadcast rights is being considered at Mexican soccer's top-tier Liga MX as a means to elevate its global standing, Enrique Bonilla, the league president, has told Sportcal.
Bonilla also outlined ambitious plans to create a pan-North American league, comprising clubs from Mexico, USA and Canada, as a legacy of the 2026 Fifa World Cup, which will be staged across all three countries.
A more realistic aim, however, is for the Mexican top flight's 18 clubs to agree to move to a system of collective selling.
At present, each club sells their own TV rights both domestically and internationally, leading to an inbalance in wealth.In May, Fox Sports Latin America, the pan-regional pay-television broadcaster, secured global rights to the matches of Monterrey Rayados in Liga MX in a five-year agreement, with the focus of the coverage to be in Mexico, USA and Latin America.
Fox now holds rights to five Mexican teams, having already signed agreements with Leon, Pachuca, Xolos and Santos (from July 2019), asserting itself as a viable challenger to the traditional ascendancy in Mexican soccer of commercial broadcasters TV Azteca and Televisa.
Liga MX has studied the financial models of the major European soccer leagues, and Bonilla said he hopes to preside over a change.
He told Sportcal on the sidelines of the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London: "The centralisation of TV rights is a real possiblity in the next cycle. We have to keep on growing and to do that we must learn from the best practices in the world. That [TV rights] is one of the key issues we have to work on. We need more resources so we can grow faster."
Bonilla indicated that central pool of resources divided out by the league would help clubs to improve their facilities, as well as ensure a competitive league.
However, any move to centralise the rights would be complicated by the fact that some of the top teams in Liga MX are owned by television companies, such as Club América (Grupo Televisa) and Atlas (Grupo Salinas, which also owns TV Azteca).
A year ago, America Movil, the telecoms giant owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, sold its 30 per cent stake in Gruopo Pachuca, owner and operator of Liga MX's Pachuca and León, but retained "certain broadcasting rights... which will allow us to continue developing sports contents on our different platforms."
Liga MX is, according to Bonilla, the third most watched sports league in USA, after American football's NFL and basketball's NBA, and he believes incorporating the league permanently into USA would be financially rewarding.
He explained: "It's a possibility, a North American league. We have to determine how and see the pros and cons but I think that's a way to grow and to compete again. If we can make a World Cup then we can make a North American league or a North American cup. The main idea is that we have to grow together to compete. If not, there is only going to be the rich guys in Europe and the rest of the world."Earlier this year, Liga MX and Major League Soccer unveiled a partnership aimed at strengthening both leagues on the global stage.
The most significant outcome of the collaboration was the launch of the annual Campeones Cup, pitting the reigning champions of Liga MX and MLS against each other (Tigres UANL beat Toronto FC 3-1 in last month's game), and the two leagues are also working on a future MLS All-Star Game featuring the best players from Liga MX.