March 4 – The Turkish domestic TV rights deal took another twist today, as the deadline for beIN Sport/Digiturk to accept the broadcast packages looked set to pass without signature. beIN Sport/Digiturk is the highest bidder for all of the packages on offer.
Instead the broadcaster has issued a statement effectively saying that it will not be rushed into a signature and that it will reassess the situation before making the “appropriate decision” for their business.
From the offer made for the packages by Digiturk for the TV packages, to the actual sanctioning of the award of those packages by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), there has been a clear moving of the goalposts by the TFF.
Digiturk made an offer for all nine SuperLig broadcast packages for a combined total of about $150 million. Saran Group were the second highest bidder offering a total of about $100 million.
However, in approving the offers, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) withdrew the two key broadcast packages – the all-you-can-eat package of every game, and the package that guaranteed Turkey’s biggest games.
As it stands Digiturk would be buying around 200 of the SuperLig’s 380 games but with no guarantee of the country’s biggest club sides.
In their statement Digiturk said: “We note, with interest, the recent press statement from TFF and the Tender Commission with regards to its tender for the Turkish Süper Lig and 1st League rights for 2022-23 onwards. While confusing in many respects, the statement does reveal some simple truths.
“Digiturk submitted the highest overall bid and the highest proposal for every single package, without exception. In some cases, Digiturk offered double the amount of guaranteed revenues for clubs compared to the next highest bid. Despite all the public posturing over recent weeks, Digiturk attributed the most value and afforded the most respect and good faith to the process and to Turkish football,” continued the statement.
Referencing that Digiturk had been a broadcaster of “premium sport in Turkey for over two decades”, the implication is clear that domestic league football may not be part of their platform going forward.
The original deal with the TFF in 2015 saw beIN Sport/Digiturk paying about $500 million per season – a significant investment for the broadcaster and big money for the SuperLig whose clubs currently have aggregated debt of about $750 million.
Loss of the beIN Sport/Digiturk money will hammer their ability to service debt and function at the same level – and in turn vastly reducing the value proposition of the league.
Digiturk know this and aren’t inclined to pay for a league where one of its biggest clubs, Fenerbahce, has endlessly abused and campaigned against the broadcaster claiming that it has influenced VAR decisions against them. The TFF has also failed to provide any provision to battle the rampant piracy of the broadcasts.
For Digiturk what could have been a simple renewal has now become both a point of principle and an internal review as to whether there is any value in continuing with the SuperLig and the TFF in an environment where there is little trust. Certainly Digiturk does not need the SuperLig rights to turbo-charge its business. But the TFF desperately needs the kind of financial underpinning Digiturk can provide.
The statement said: “In light of the confidential information that TFF has now publicly revealed about all the bids (and lack thereof), we will continue to act in the best interests of our business and our customers. Digiturk has a rational and long term business plan – across our sports, movies, entertainment, internet, OTT and other services – while also being part of a global group. The long term sustainability of our business is not based on the outcome of one single tender – and we will make appropriate decisions with that in mind.”
At this stage Turkish football does not look to be in a good place or holding too many cards to turn the game around.
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