Web giant Rambler snares Premier League rights in Russia
By Jonathan Rest
Rambler&Co, the Russian media group that runs one of the largest web portals in the country, has acquired exclusive rights to English soccer's Premier League.
Sportcal understands that Rambler outbid incumbent Match TV, the sports broadcaster backed by Gazprom Media, for the rights covering the 2019-20 to 2021-22 cycle.
The agreement marks Rambler's first significant foray into sports broadcasting, and it is expected to launch a sports streaming platform to carry the matches.
Match TV shows the Premier League on its sports thematic channels, with some key matches broadcast on its main free-to-air channel.
NTV Plus, the Russian pay-TV platform also controlled by state-backed energy giants Gazprom, held Premier League rights from 2013-14 to 2015-16.
In recent months, the Premier League has extended deals in Hong Kong and the Netherlands with Now TV, the pay-TV broadcaster operated by PCCW Media, and Ziggo, the Dutch cable and telecoms operator, for the next three-year rights cycle, while IMG, the international sports marketing agency, retained live broadcast rights in 26 countries in Central and Eastern Europe (excluding Russia) and Central Asia.
It was reported today that the league is on course to break through the £9-billion ($11.8-billion) mark for media rights fees for the next three years, with an increase in international rights fees compensating for a drop in income from the domestic market.
The chairmen of the league’s 20 clubs are to be briefed next week that most overseas deals for the seasons 2019-20 to 2021-22 have been finalised, with a rise of 20 to 30 per cent in their value expected.