This year, new media rights deals were closed for four of the five most popular football leagues in Europe: the Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga. With the last deal for the Bundesliga in Germany agreed in 2016, what were the outcomes of these auction rounds, and what do tell us about the state of play in the European sports rights market?
Driven mainly by pay TV, rights to football leagues have seen huge increases in recent cycles; domestic rights to the Bundesliga soared 87% when a new deal was closed in 2016. Rights to France's Ligue 1 will rise 60% but other leagues unveiled smaller increases or even declining values.
Rights were divided into packages to with the aim of maximising bids and revenues, but three—the Premier League, the LFP and La Liga—were unable to sell all packages in the first round of bidding. The Italian process in June was successful, but it was the third attempt to sell rights for this cycle; the first two auctions were annulled.
New entrants were, overall, few. Mediapro won rights to la Ligue in France, while Perform Group’s DAZN won rights to Serie A rights in Italy, while Amazon with an exclusive package of Premier League rights in the UK. Companies dropping out of the rights market included Mediaset in Italy (which did not bid) and Canal Plus in France (which bid low). Packages tailored to entice new bids from online companies were generally unsuccessful.
- The level of increase or decrease over previous rights auctions is a mixed picture. In France, the LFP was able to unveil a 60% increase in rights from 2020/21, with key packages not yet sold. In Italy, Lega Serie A achieved a modest 2.9% increase in its revenues from 2018/19. The Premier League's main customer Sky will reduce its payment by 14.3% from 2019/20.
- Packages unsold in the first round of bidding tended to be the lowest-value packages, including a weekly free-to-air match for La Liga and the Ligue 1 multiplex package and the two smallest Premier League packages.
- New entrants included the Spanish agency Mediapro, which won rights to la Ligue in France, Perform Group’s DAZN, awarded a package of Serie A rights in Italy, and Amazon which won exclusive Premier League rights in the UK.
- However, none was a complete newcomer: Mediapro has been active in Spain, was initially awarded Serie A rights before the Italian clubs cancelled the agreement, and Perform and Amazon have highlights packages for the Bundesliga in the current 2017-21 cycle.
- Sky retained its hold over the leagues in the UK and Italy, while Telefonica will extend its ownership of La Liga in Spain and BeInSports remained in the running in France.
- Mediaset in Italy (which did not bid) and Canal Plus in France (which bid low) are set to drop out of the market, while Mediapro will keep only a package of non-residential rights to La Liga in Spain from 2019/20.
- Regulators played a key part in the design of rights packages, and all included a ‘no single buyer’ provision.
List of tables and charts:
- European football leagues: increases in rights values, last four cycles
- Ligue 1 & 2: Outcome of auction for rights to 2020/21-2023/24
- France: rights to Ligue 1 & 2, 2005-2024
- Ligue 1 & 2: Change in value of rights (latest four cycles)
- France: consumer offer, Ligue 1 & 2 , 2018/19
- Serie A: Outcome of auction for rights to 2018/19-2020/21
- Italy: rights to Serie A, 2009-2021
- Serie A: Change in value of rights (latest four cycles)
- Italy: consumer offer, Serie A, 2018/19
- LaLiga: Outcome of auction for rights to 2019/20-2021/22
- Spain: rights to LaLiga, 2009-2022
- LaLiga: Change in value of rights (latest four cycles)
- Spain: consumer offer, LaLiga, 2018/19
- Premier League: Outcome of auction for rights to 2019/20-2021/22
- UK: rights to Premier League, 2007-2022
- Premier League: Change in value of rights (latest four cycles)
- UK: consumer offer, Premier League, 2018/19
- Bundesliga: Outcome of auction for rights to 2017/18-2020/21
- Germany: rights to Bundesliga 1 & 2, 2003-2021
- Bundesliga: Change in value of rights (latest four cycles)
- Germany: consumer offer, Bundesliga 1 & 2, 2018/19
Number of Pages: 18
Number of Tables and Charts: 21