Flamengo’s Youtube broadcast challenges law but pushes Globo to cancel Carioca contract

By Samindra Kunti

July 3 – In an unprecedented move, Brazilian broadcasting behemoth TV Globo has rescinded its contract with Rio de Janeiro’s state football federation after Flamengo streamed their match against Boa Vista on Youtube under a temporary federal rule introduced by Jair Bolsonaro.

On Wednesday, Flamengo defeated Boa Vista 2-0 behind closed doors at the Maracana, but the club broadcast the match online via its own Youtube account with the stream enjoying an average audience of 2 million viewers. But rights-holder TV Globo claimed that their broadcast exclusivity was violated by Flamengo’s broadcast.

In a statement the broadcaster said: “According to the contract, Globo had exclusivity in broadcasting the matches of the Carioca Championship. The Federation and eleven clubs signed the agreement. Flamengo was the exception. Brazilian legislation says that, in order to broadcast any match, it is necessary to acquire rights from both clubs involved. Legally, no one could broadcast Flamengo matches in the Rio league and only Globo could broadcast (matches of) others.”

Before the start of season, Flamengo and TV Globo had failed to reach an agreement to broadcast the club’s matches, the Brazilians champions arguing that it was entitled to a bigger slice of the cake because of the exposure they bring. Globo’s deal with Rio de Janeiro’s state football federation is worth close to  $200 million for the 2016-2024 cycle, according to UOL.

“Flamengo relied on the executive decree [MP] to broadcast their match at Maracanã. Globo understands that the MP cannot alter a contract that was previously signed and protected by the Constitution,” wrote the broadcaster.

Last week, Brazilian president Bolsonaro signed a temporary executive decree, valid for up to 120 days, that allows Brazilian clubs to freely negotiate broadcasting rights for home matches if no contract is in force. Flamengo lobbied Bolsonaro to introduce the rule, which requires congressional approval to become permanent.

The club and the president’s interests aligned neatly. Brazil’s head of state has claimed that TV Globo’s unfavourable coverage of his presidency is working against him while Flamengo didn’t want to sign on with TV Globo. The club felt it had legitimate reasons to demand more money from TV Globo after winning both the Brazilian championship and Copa Libertadores in 2019, reinforcing its status as the country’s most supported team. Last year, Flamengo’s contract with Globo for the state championship ran out.

The dispute between Brazil’s biggest clubs and the country’s most powerful broadcaster could foreshadow an even more intense battle over the broadcast rights for the national championship, which run through until 2024. In the future, Flamengo could severely test TV Globo’s hegemony.

At the same time, Brazil’s and Rio’s smaller clubs will be monitoring the rupture anxiously. They largely depend on rights revenue from TV Globo for their survival.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1603881044labto1603881044ofdlr1603881044owedi1603881044sni@o1603881044fni1603881044