SportTV Rights: Bolivian league not worth figures quoted by FBF
José Quiroga, chief executive of SportTV Rights, the agency that controls the broadcasting rights to Bolivian soccer's División Profesional, has laughed off suggestions from the FBF, the national governing body, that the next contract should be worth as much as $10 million per season, more than double the present amount, claiming the market dynamics do not make such an outlay viable.
SportTV's deal with the FBF, the Bolivian soccer federation, for the top league, and worth $4.1 million per annum, expires at the end of this year.
The sales process for the 2021 to 2024 cycle has been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic but when it resumes the FBF is said to be looking for between $40 million and $45 million over the course of the four-year contact.
While SportTV does have a matching clause in its contract, Quiroga indicated the company has a number at which it will withdraw from negotiations.He told La Razon, the Bolivian newspaper: "If another company offers $20 million or $30 million, as far as we are concerned, we could improve or perhaps not, it will depend on an analysis; but I already tell you that if someone offers $50 million we are not going to enter, you cannot pay that."
Quiroga said the number of subscribers to cable television "is a small market", meaning it would be impossible to make money on such a reported figure.
He continued: "Bolivian [club] owners compare themselves with other countries, but what they don't see is how many subscribers Bolivia has. There are 700,000 to 800,000 subscribers, but 200,000 of them do not buy the soccer service... In such a small market, where are you going to get more money from? The cooperatives [of telecoms firms] do not pay more than $3 million to buy the rights, I am talking about all of them together."Quiroga also called on top-flight clubs to broaden their commercial portfolios, saying that simply relying on media rights income was "the easy option."
He continued: "The clubs believe that television has to save them and it is not so. There are other items that they do not exploit... If one looks at the books of clubs such as Vasco da Gama, Flamengo [in Brazil], River or Boca [in Argentina].. one realises that they do not have more than 7 per cent of income for television rights in its annual budget; and in the case of minor clubs it is 20 to 25 per cent.
"This is because their greatest income is from the sale of players, the tickets, the fees of their members, the sponsors, the merchandising they carry out."
At the invitation of FBF vice-president Robert Blanco, Quiroga met with the leaders of top-flight clubs Blooming, Wilstermann and Oriente last week to discuss what they could do to increase their commercial revenues.
He continued: "The greatest income that any club in the world has is not from television but from the sale of players. What players does Bolivian soccer sell? Furthermore, I recommend hiring a marketing company to motivate the fans to go to the stadium, but they do nothing, they are not interested in any of that. The leaders are only interested in having television money.
"They should campaign to attract partners, fans, grow that spectrum. But they do nothing at all. They believe that television has to save them, but they do not understand that we are in a small market."
Earlier this year, the FBF announced that 10 companies had responded to its invitation to tender, which covers the División Professional and second-tier División Amateur - SportTV Rights, US media giants ESPN and Turner, Bolivian telecoms firms and broadcasters Comteco, Entel, Cotel, Unitel, Tigo Sport and Ceo Nexus Sport, and Gol TV, the pay-television operator owned by Tenfield, the Uruguayan agency.