LaLiga’s failure to secure UK TV deal reflects wider broadcast and schedule uncertainty

August 1 – La Liga has not found a home for its broadcasting rights in the UK and Ireland for the 2019/20 season, leaving the big kick off in August in doubt for fans across the UK.

La Liga held a tender for the broadcast rights with a July 25 deadline for one or a combination of six audio-visual packages for the next three seasons, but despite housing some of the world’s best players, broadcasters have failed to meet La Liga expectations which declared the tender null and void after receiving “no satisfactory bids”.

“After assessing all bids and required additional documentation from participating bidders, La Liga has declared the tender null and void because no satisfactory bids were received,” said La Liga’s head of communication Joris Evers. “La Liga thanks all participants in the tender for their interest and shall inform soon about next steps.”

In May 2018 Eleven Sports secured a three-year deal for LaLiga rights, but the online streaming service struggled to sign up significant levels subscribers and had to renegotiate its agreement with the Spanish league. The Eleven deal marked a shit from pay-TV to OTT as Sky had passed on renewing its £18 million a year deal for the UK.

Eleven, in conjunction with Premier Sport, are reportedly keen to find an agreement with LaLiga but both sides will price the amount they are willing to pay on the number of subscribers LaLiga matches will realistically drive to their channels. While the Real Madrid vs Barcelona Classico has attracted audiences of up to 1 million in the past, the other LaLiga matches have not proved to be a big draw.

The LaLiga conundrum reflects a hardening of the broadcast rights market which is still finding a commercial operating level with the new challenges of OTT and IPTV. There is also increasing fear of the operation of pirate broadcasters with the Saudi Arabian-operated priate channel beoutQ casting a long and commercially dangerous shadow over the rights business.

LaLiga also has issues over the scheduling of the new season that is due to kick off on August 16 with Athletic Bilbao hosting champions Barcelona, but has been thrown into doubt following a row between the RFEF and the league over the domestic calendar.

The RFEF have controversially rescheduled fixtures on Fridays and Mondays – a decision endorsed by a Spanish judge – because the league had not asked permission to alter its calendar.

“Spanish football fans do not want games on these days,” the RFEF said. “Especially on Mondays, it is very difficult for fans to enjoy games.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas countered: “With this illegal conduct RFEF officials are generating confusion in the national and international broadcast space, which accounts for €2 billion in annual rights income for La Liga,”

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1575859631labto1575859631ofdlr1575859631owedi1575859631sni@t1575859631catno1575859631c1575859631