Under antitrust threat from the regulator, rights owner Mediapro is reportedly set to open up the football TV rights to Telefonica’s competitors.
Mediapro is likely to make an offer over soon to Orange and Vodafone to broadcast Spanish La Liga and other domestic tournaments for three seasons starting in 2016-2017 as well as the Champions and the UEFA League matches from 2016 to 2018.
Telefonica recently agreed to pay €2.4 billion for the rights, which feed into the company’s growing reliance on sports content and films to lure clients. The carrier already owns rights to the current season of the Spanish first-division league.
Mediapro markets the rights by licensing BeINSports, which carries the matches, to third parties.
Soccer broadcasts stand at the centre of Telefonica’s Fusion package, a bundle of services that includes television, broadband, landline and wireless access.
When Telefonica acquired pay-TV service DTS Distribuidora de Television Digital SA last year, the Spanish competition watchdog CNMC ordered it to sell 50 per cent of the so-called premium content it had at the time, which included soccer as well as other sports and shows, to its rivals. Telefonica controls about 85 per cent of the country’s pay-TV.
While Telefonica owns the Spanish rights to the 2015-2016 season and has to wholesale them to companies such as Orange and Vodafone under the CNMC ruling, it didn’t have rights to the current season of the Champions League until it acquired them this month as part of the agreement with Mediapro. Orange and Vodafone already had rights to broadcast the European tournament.