Spain’s pay-TV operators have turned their back on rights holder Mediapro over the football TV rights to the Champions League and Europa League for the next three seasons, 2018-2021.
Vodafone eventually refused to bid for the rights, whereas Telefónica and Orange submitted an offer much lower than that required by Mediapro.
The remaining operators are aiming to force Mediapro to negotiate a much cheaper price for the rights.
An alternative option would be OTT platforms such as Amazon, Netflix or even Google and Facebook which may be interested in breaking into the football business, but they have never paid such a high sum of money elsewhere for similar rights.
In March 2017, Mediapro sent the operators the conditions to bid for the rights which the media company acquired for €1.1 billion, with a deadline of April 6th. The operators urged Mediapro to significantly reduce the high price for them.
For the current operators, football TV rights have become a burden as they cannot make a profit. In Spain, there are 3 million subscribers to football, half of the total pay-TV market, of which 400,000 come to Vodafone and Orange and the rest to Movistar. Operators estimate that they should charge each subscriber €60 a month to cover all costs when they are receiving €20 a month on average.
The TV rights battle is to be continued with the auction of La Liga rights over the next weeks for the next three seasons. La Liga is seeking to increase the price up to 30 per cent to garner €1.3 billion a year. In the last auction in 2015, Movistar paid €750 million for a three-year period for the main football match every week and Mediapro paid €1.9 billion for the other eight pay-TV matches for three years.