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Sogecable takes Euro ’08 soccer

Digital Plus, Cuatro share rights

LONDON — Sogecable, Spain’s leading pay TV operator, has taken exclusive Spanish rights to the final rounds of the Uefa Euro 2008 soccer cup.

No price has been revealed for the deal.

The Euro 2008 tournament, a mini-league and then knock-out competition between national teams around Europe, takes place in Austria and Switzerland June 7-29.

Sogecable digital satellite operator Digital Plus will broadcast all the Euro 2008 matches; Cuatro, Sogecable’s startup terrestrial commercial web, which launched November 2005, will transmit games involving Spain’s national team.

Sogecable’s rights package includes recorded highlights and non-live transmissions.

In a press statement Thursday, Sogecable said it is aiming to repeat the success of its transmission of World Cup soccer rights in the summer of 2006.

World Cup games on Cuatro averaged 40.4% share and 5.75 million viewers.

When the Spanish national team was playing, those figures rose to 46% share and 7.5 million viewers.

Broadcasting the World Cup, Cuatro achieved a major step-up in share and channel recognition — from 6.2% in May 2006 to 7.5% in June and 7.1% in July — which partially held after the World Cup. In August 2006, sans soccer, Cuatro still punched a 6.8% share.

The Uefa Euro 2008 tournament could also rep Digital Plus’ first major push on high definition TV.

Sogecable has tied up HD rights to the tournament and announced last month that it will launch HD TV service Canal Plus Alta Definicion in 2008, with carriage on Digital Plus. Test trials begin next month.

Plunging prices are sparking a boom in Plasma flatscreen TV set sales in Spain. According to Sogecable, 13% of Spanish TV sets are now HD capable, including 21% of sets owned by Digital Plus customers.

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