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June 23, 2022

LaLiga extends with Ziggo, cancels Super Sports Media deal in China

Spanish soccer’s LaLiga has today (June 23) announced a renewed long-term broadcast rights agreement in the Netherlands with Ziggo Sport, the pay-television operator owned by the Dutch cable and telecoms firm, until 2029.

By Tariq Saleh

Spanish soccer’s LaLiga has today (June 23) announced a renewed long-term broadcast rights agreement in the Netherlands with Ziggo Sport, the pay-television operator owned by the Dutch cable and telecoms firm, until 2029.

Ziggo opted to secure a new seven-year agreement despite its present contract with the league not expiring until 2024.

Under the extension, the broadcaster will continue to have domestic television and digital rights to show live LaLiga matches and highlights.

LaLiga coverage will remain on the basic-tier Ziggo Sport and pay-TV service Ziggo Sport Totaal.

The Spanish top-flight launched the tender process in the Netherlands in March.

Mediapro, the Spanish agency, is the partner of LaLiga for the distribution of international rights under a five-year deal running to 2023-24.

With the seven-year Ziggo extension, the Spanish top-flight again ignored a recommendation by Spanish competition regulator the CNMCto not offer broadcast rights contracts of more than three years.

In a move away from its traditional three-year cycles, LaLiga has signed multiple agreements of five or more years both in Spain (Telefonica and DAZN) and international territories including the US (ESPN), Mexico (Sky).

The league, however, did stick to three years in the UK after renewing its partnership with pay-TV broadcaster Premier Sports earlier this month, although, in that instance, the CNMC did not object to a long-term contract being proposed.

Melcior Soler, LaLiga's audiovisual director, said: “Dutch football fans love to watch LaLiga. We have been working together with Ziggo Sport in the Netherlands for many years.

“Through the channel the whole of the Netherlands can experience the competition up close on a weekly basis. We are delighted that Ziggo Sport will remain our exclusive partner for at least another seven years.”

Ziggo has an extensive portfolio of soccer rights that includes the UEFA Champions League, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A and Coppa Italia, Germany’s DFB-Pokal cup competition, England’s FA Cup, and the Belgian, Portuguese, and Scottish leagues.

The pay-TV operator also holds rights to the UEFA Nations League national teams competition and qualifiers for FIFA World Cups and UEFA European Championships.

However, Ziggo will lose rights to show the English Premier League from the upcoming 2022-23 season after it was acquired by the Viaplay streaming service, which launched in the Netherlands earlier year.

Meanwhile, LaLiga has terminated its digital rights agreement in China with sports marketing firm Super Sports Media (SSM) due to missed payments.

The long-term rights deal between the two parties began with the 2019-20 season and was initially due to run until 2024-25 but was renegotiated in 2020 to extend to 2028-29.

It represented one of LaLiga’s most lucrative international broadcast agreements.  

However, the renegotiation did result in a drop in value due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

LaLiga confirmed that it has initiated legal action against the company in both China and Spain after terminating the deal.

In a statement, the league said: “In view of the continuing situation of non-payment and, therefore, non-compliance with the conditions agreed between both parties, LaLiga announces the termination of the contractual relationship with SuperSports Media for audiovisual rights in China.

“In addition to the termination of the contract, which bound both parties until the end of the 2028-29 season, LaLiga has initiated the relevant legal actions in order to safeguard the interests of the competition.”

SSM used the LaLiga rights on its joint-venture sports streaming platform iQiyi Sports, one of China’s leading digital sports media platforms.

The sports marketing company had also sublicensed digital rights for LaLiga in the 2020-21 to 2022-23 seasons to telecoms firm China Mobile, which operates streaming platform Migu and IPTV platform Mobaihe.

The business joint venture LaLiga launched in 2020 with SSM and Mediapro is still understood to be in place.

LaLiga is the latest European league to encounter issues with its rights deal in China amid the Covid-19 period.

Most notably, the Premier League canceled its partnership with PPTV, the Chinese streaming service owned by retail corporation Suning, over missed payments in 2020.

In January, PPTV was ordered to pay the league £157 million ($191.3 million) after losing a court case over the termination of their rights contract.

Premier League rights were subsequently picked up by iQiyi Sports.

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