Sogecable teams with Mediapro

Duo will share soccer rights

MADRID — Marking an armistice in Spain’s TV soccer wars, Spanish pay TV giant Sogecable and rights broker and production company Mediapro have teamed to share Spanish league and cup soccer rights.

Sogecable filed a brief note to Madrid’s CNMV stock market authorities Thursday, announcing that it had pacted along with Mediapro, Catalan pubcaster TVC and Audiovisual Sport, the sport rights distribution company owned by Sogecable and TVC, to offer league and cup soccer TV from the upcoming season.

The pact comes after Mediapro announced in June that it had inked all TV rights to Barcelona soccer club league matches from 2006 to 2013 for north of Euros 1 billion ($1.25 billion). Audiovisual Sport owns league soccer rights up to 2008.

With live soccer transmissions vital for Sogecable satcaster Digital Plus, Mediapro’s deal with Barcelona sent Sogecable shares plunging, although they have gradually recovered on the back of market doubts that Mediapro has the coin to pay on its own for Barcelona games.

The new entente cordiale between Sogecable and Mediapro is likely to see Mediapro taking an equity stake in Audiovisual Sport or Sogecable, Mediapro and TVC creating a new company.

Over early August, Audiovisual will auction league and cup games from next season. Rights will be divided into packages.

The most likely split would see Digital Plus retaining premium pay and PPV rights to league games with TVC and new broadcaster La Sexta, in which Mediapro is a lede shareholder, sharing free-to-air rights, maybe in association with other partners, to one Saturday night game.

La Sexta CEO Jose Miguel Contreras told Daily Variety today that Euros 90 million ($113.9 million) — the sum paid last year by the FORTA for one free-to-air Saturday night game — was too much for one broadcaster.

But La Sexta is keenly interested in snagging soccer league rights to further the reception of its signal in Spain, which currently reaches some 70% of households.

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