Mediapro nets TV rights for soccer league

Deal doubles the price that Sogecable was paying

Hiking the stakes dramatically in Spain’s TV soccer wars, Mediapro, a lead shareholder in new broadcaster La Sexta, has inked all TV rights to Barcelona soccer club league matches from 2006 to 2013 for north of E1 billion ($1.25 billion).

The Mediapro deal doubles the $82 million per year that current rights holder, Spanish pay TV giant Sogecable, is said to be paying Barcelona. Sogecable has Barcelona’s league rights until 2008, but Barcelona argues it can break the deal if it receives a better offer.

Mediapro is unlikely to buy up all Spanish first division club rights.

“The offer values Spanish league games at some $630 million to $760 million a year. Mediapro can’t afford that. It’s more of a negotiating ploy,” said Fabian Lares, at Espiritu Santo Investment.

More likely, La Sexta is looking to wrestle one free-to-air match out of Sogecable to force Spaniards to re-tune their antennas and receive the tyro web.

But even one weekly game on La Sexta would devalue Sogecable’s pay-per-view offer of Spanish league games.

(Emilio Mayorga contributed to this report.)

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