LaLiga carves out live FTA package in UK and Ireland rights tender
By Jonathan Rest
Spanish soccer's LaLiga today issued its much-anticipated media rights tender in the UK and Ireland, carving out packages of over-the-top and free-to-air rights following the success of an unintended experiment last season.
The invitation to tender covers the 2019-20 to 2021-22 seasons, with interested parties having until 17 July to query any points in the ITT and until 25 July to submit bids to the league and its marketing partner Mediapro.
Any questions related to the tender process should be directed to email@example.com.
Six packages are included in the tender, with package 1 offering exclusivity: rights to broadcast on pay-TV and/or free-to-air, live and/or delayed, through all distribution formats, all matches, including the six promotion play-off games.
The other packages, which can been viewed here,
The free-to-air package offers 38 games per season, one 'second pick' game per round of fixtures, and comes with a number of stipulations, including the right to broadcast 20 matches that may involve one, but never two, LaLiga participants with the five highest Uefa Club Coefficients on 1 August of the year in which each season starts. As it stands they would be Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Villareal in the 2019-20 season.
The successful bidder for Package 6 cannot broadcast more than four matches per season of those five teams, and not more than two of their home games.
A weekly highlights programme is also included in the free-to-air package.
The structure of the tender highlights LaLiga's satisfaction with the broadcast landscape the league stumbled upon in the UK in the second half of the 2018-19 campaign.
In May last year, Eleven Sports, the international subscription broadcaster, secured exclusive rights in the UK and Ireland to LaLiga in a three-year deal, dealing a blow to Sky, the pay-TV broadcaster, which had held rights for over 20 years, but was not willing to match its previous outlay of €22 million per season.
However, by the end of 2018, having failed to strike carriage deals with the likes of Sky, BT Sport and Virgin Media, Eleven Sports repositioned itself as an OTT platform, retaining digital rights only to LaLiga for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, streaming every game.
LaLiga subsequently sold pay-TV rights to UK pay-TV operator Premier Sports, covering four games per week until the end of the season, and then a free-to-air package of a weekly game and midweek highlights programme to ITV4, the sports and general entertainment channel of ITV, the country's leading commercial broadcaster.
LaLiga also noted in the tender that it has committed not to schedule a Barcelona-Real Madrid 'El Clásico' match during the UK's broadcast blackout period of Saturday afternoon between 2:45pm and 5.15pm (UK).
The blackout of matches is intended to safeguard match attendances and participation in the grassroots game.
Eleven did broadcast a couple of LaLiga fixtures in the blackout period in the early part of last season, but eventually backed down.
During the 2016-17 season, then rights-holder Sky was forced to show one El Clásico match two hours after its 3.15pm kick-off time.