Globo, the Brazilian commercial broadcasting giant, has ended a 12-month legal dispute with Conmebol, South American soccer’s governing body, relating to the network pulling out of a three-year deal to show the Copa Libertadores competition last August, two years early.
The two parties have ended the legal process that had been ongoing in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland since last November after Conmebol had taken issue with Globo’s early termination of its deal to show the continent’s top clubs' competition due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
The dispute’s resolution, announced publicly by both parties yesterday (25 October), essentially means that Globo will now be able to enter the bidding for the Brazilian rights to the Libertadores between 2023 and 2026. Under Conmebol’s internal statutes, a broadcaster with which the governing body is in a legal dispute cannot take part in these tender processes.
It has now been reported that meetings between Globo and Conmebol senior executives regarding the next three-year rights cycle are scheduled for later this week. While the formal tender process will not be formally set out, according to reports, until early 2022, Conmebol is said to be in informal talks with several key broadcasters already.
Globo had been showing Libertadores matches up until last August, on its main free-to-air channel and pay-television platform SporTV under a three-year deal that came into effect in 2019 and was worth $65 million per annum.
When renegotiations with the governing body, prompted by the post-pandemic economic situation, proved unsuccessful, however, Globo terminated the contract, citing a ‘specific termination clause’ in the event of a protracted suspension of the tournament, as occurred last year during the pandemic’s sweep across South America.
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Conmebol then filed its lawsuit last November, demanding that Globo pay a substantial fine and citing breach of contract, and rejecting Globo’s claim regarding the specific termination clause.
The dispute will have hurt Conmebol financially. In advance of the Copa America national teams’ tournament that took place earlier this year, the governing body rejected a lucrative offer from Globo (due to the ongoing dispute), to sign a less financially attractive deal with rival broadcaster SBT.
Now, the two parties will be able to enter into contracts once again.
Last year, after Globo pulled out, SBT and Conmebol’s own in-house OTT network showed the 2020 Libertadores (which was won by Brazilian heavyweights Palmeiras).
In its announcement yesterday, Globo said: “Conmebol and Globo reached an agreement to stop the arbitration in progress in Switzerland due to the termination of the Copa Libertadores rights contract from 2019 to 2022.
“The understanding reinforces the respect that has always guided the long-standing partnership between the institutions.”
In March this year, Conmebol announced losses of $14.5 million, with Globo’s pullout contributing heavily to its financial woes.
Over-the-top sports subscription service DAZN also pulled out of a rights deal with the governing body. It had been showing the Copa Sudamerica, the second-tier pan-continental competition, since 2019, in a deal that was also due to run until 2022, but DAZN exercised its right in August last year to end the agreement early, again because of the pandemic.
Although new homes were found for both these competitions (Conmebol launched its own channel to show Sudamericana matches in the end), running between 2020 and 2022, the revenue from those arrangements will only count in the 2021 accounts.
The tender for broadcast rights to the 2023-26 Copa Libertadores will be issued next year by FC Diez Media, Conmebol’s commercial rights partner which is wholly owned by sports and entertainment agency IMG.
FC Diez Media was founded in 2018 as a joint venture between IMG, the international sports and entertainment agency, and Perform (now DAZN Group), the digital sports media specialist, after the two companies jointly acquired rights to Conmebol competitions from 2019 to 2022.
IMG took full control of FC Diez Media early last year when it bought DAZN’s 50 per cent stake.
Last week, meanwhile, Globo lost its exclusive rights on digital platforms to broadcast men’s soccer’s top-tier 2022 Fifa World Cup, with the sport’s global governing body now reportedly offering these rights to social media sites in Brazil including YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.
While Globo will still retain exclusive rights to next year’s World Cup in Qatar – to be held between 21 November and 18 December 2022 – on both free-to-air and pay-TV linear channels in Brazil, the exclusive rights across digital and online platforms have now been stripped from the broadcaster.
Reports from Brazil have now said that Fifa has brought in the local LiveMode media agency to advise it on how best to distribute rights across digital platforms.