By Tariq Saleh
Spanish soccer’s LaLiga is set to finally launch its domestic media rights tender next week after it was internally approved by its board.
The league plans to offer lengthier four or five-year contracts as part of a revamped tender for seasons 2022-23 to 2024-25, which includes split packages for the first time in order to stimulate potential bidders and capitalise on the growth of the OTT sector.
This is despite the CNMC, Spain's competition regulator, last week calling for LaLiga to scrap this plan and stick to its traditional three-year deals.
The league acknowledged the recommendation by the CNMC but will not deviate from its new approach as it believes lengthier media rights deals will provide greater access to fans and at more favourable prices.
LaLiga expects the offer of a five-year contract to attract more interested parties in the tender as it could provide a better return on investment over an extended period of time.
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The Spanish top-flight is seeking to achieve three main objectives with the new tender: broader distribution, easier access for viewers and matching the value of the last tender.
The league will move away from the process of selling rights to all 380 matches together and instead split them into different packages, as is the case with the English Premier League in the UK, where internet giant Amazon presently shows 20 games per season.
It is thought that LaLiga is keen to facilitate easier entry for the likes of DAZN and Amazon.
Incidentally, the CNMC is in favour of this particular approach and stated that it can “encourage more operators to participate and competition between them.”
At present, telecoms giant Telefonica is the main broadcaster of LaLiga in Spain, with a three-year deal worth a total of €2.94 billion ($3.4 billion) running until the end of this season. With Mediapro also holding some domestic rights, the league earns around €1.2 billion per season.
Telefonica is keen to retain the rights but has already stated it does not expect to receive a discount on its current fee due to the league’s new approach and will look to be more cautious on the price than in previous bidding rounds.
Despite the competition and a potential reduction in games, the telecoms firm is still expected to bid for the top package of rights to continue showing the lion’s share of the Spanish top-flight, which it airs through its Movistar Plus pay-TV service.
Earlier this week, Orange Espana, the Spanish arm of the international telecoms operator, said it will not participate in the upcoming domestic tender to avoid driving up prices.
The company will instead seek to negotiate a sub-licensing deal with the broadcasters that win the various packages from next season onwards.
Orange is showing LaLiga matches to its pay-television subscribers this season as part of a content-sharing deal with Telefonica.
The two parties extended this agreement in July ahead of the start of this season and covers the Movistar Plus channels, which show matches from LaLiga and European club competitions.
Orange shows nine of the 10 fixtures from each LaLiga matchday, all 11 games from each round of the second-tier Segunda Division, and action from the Uefa Champions League, Europa League and new Europa Conference League.
Meanwhile, Mediapro, the Spanish media company, and LVP, its esports subsidiary, will continue to produce the eLaLiga esports competition as part of a renewed deal with the top Spanish league.
LVP will again be responsible for the production of the tournament in the 2021-22 season which gets underway in November.
The upcoming campaign will be the fifth edition of the eLaLiga, which is played on the popular Fifa title.