Nine European Soccer Leagues Combine Media Rights Into One Central Package

·3 min read

A group of nine European soccer leagues, including the top domestic leagues in Denmark, Switzerland and Norway, are pooling their international media rights in the hopes that selling a larger centralized package will bring more eyeballs and more revenue.

The new offering was organized by the European Leagues, a group that represents the commercial interests of dozens of leagues across the continent, with Octagon overseeing the sale. A tender summoning bids was sent to media companies around the globe this week.

The tender, which was viewed by Sportico, details one of the largest rights packages to ever hit the market: 116 clubs and more than 1,500 annual games, in seasons that span all 12 months of the year. It encompasses non-domestic rights for all nine leagues, each the top professional circuit in its country, for three seasons from 2021-2024. The package is expected to fetch something in the $5 million to $20 million range, according to someone familiar with the plans.

None of these nine leagues are commercial powerhouses by themselves—only Denmark and Switzerland rank among the continent’s 20 best leagues, according to UEFA—but they’re hoping that a centralized package will be more appealing to media organizations. That could result in more revenue for the leagues, and a larger platform to attract new fans.

“Bundling Winter and Summer leagues together provides year-round ‘non-stop football’ and also greater opportunity for international players to be followed by fans even as they move between leagues,” said Chris Gerstle, head of business development at the European Leagues. “We believe that both traditional and new media players will place a higher value on these rights than they have in seasons past when these leagues commercialized their non-domestic rights individually.”

The idea for pooled broadcast rights came after the European Leagues, formally the Association of European Professional Football Leagues, took a similar approach to betting data. The group recently pooled data rights to 16 members and signed extended deals with Genius Sports, Sportradar and Stats Perform.

Media rights for European soccer leagues are typically sold in one of two ways: individually by the league, or to an agency that sells its themselves. This model, in which the leagues unite to hit the market as a package, is a new approach, and allows the group to be flexible in areas like deal length, how much to divide the rights, and even who’s involved. The tender includes these nine leagues, but the European Leagues expect others to join in the future. (The data package, for example, was originally eight leagues before expanding to 16 for this most recent extension).

It’s a plan tailored to today’s media market, according to Dan Cohen, senior vice president of Octagon’s global media rights consulting. In addition to the live rights, the package also includes highlight rights, archived video, audio and in-flight rights.

“We aren’t moving towards a sports streaming world; we are currently living in one,” Cohen said in an interview. “As traditional media companies seek high-quality content to drive their nascent Subscription Video On Demand businesses, while showcasing tentpole sporting events on their linear networks, this European Leagues media rights offering promises to deliver on their new content, multi-platform, distribution strategies.”

The nine leagues included in the package are the top domestic circuits in Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Iceland, Latvia and Kazakhstan, a European Leagues member.

In addition to the volume of games, the offset schedule makes the package unique. Most top-tier European Leagues, like the English Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A, are off in the Summer. Five of the leagues included in this package are on a similar schedule, while the other four have their offseason in the winter.

The tender calls for bids to be returned on July 12, with a decision announced on Aug. 20. It covers September 2021 through December 2024, or three seasons depending on when each league starts.

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