Move breaks 18-year Sogecable monopoly

SAN SEBASTIAN — Deep-pocketed Spanish rights broker Mediapro is launching a new soccer channel, Gol TV, via France Telecom’s IPTV platform Orange TV.

Mediapro’s announcement has created waves in Spain. Its move breaks an 18-year-old monopoly of conglom Sogecable on pay TV soccer rights in Spain, and reps a goal for Mediapro in its battle with Prisa-owned Sogecable, and puts in doubt the value of Sogecable’s Digital Plus pay TV operator as Prisa attempts to sell it.

Digital Plus’ main subs driver was its exclusive Sunday primetime pay TV soccer match on Canal Plus.

Besides Orange, Gol TV is launching on two Spanish regional cable operators, the Basque Country’s Euskaltel and Asturias’ Telecable.

Mediapro is negotiating with the remainder of Spain’s pay TV operators, barring Sogecable, for them to carry Gol TV, said Gol’s director Jose Joaquin Brotons.

Gol TV will combine live and recorded soccer match broadcasts from Spain’s top division Liga BBVA, another seven European tournaments such as England’s Premier League and Italy’s Serie A, and three Latin American championships, including Argentina’s Torneo Apertura.

As part of a marathon sports weekend, featuring 17 soccer matches, Gol TV has announced the broadcast of Liga BBVA match Athletic de Bilbao vs. Valladolid, which represents Spanish League’s first live pay TV soccer match not broadcast by Sogecable’s paybox Canal Plus in 18 years.

This season, Gol will also offer several games from Europe’s UEFA Cup and qualifying competitions for the 2010 World Cup.

Channel’s impact will most probably increase considerably from the 2009/10 season, when Mediapro draws on its rights to the European Champions League.

Also from next season, Mediapro will control Spanish TV rights of all Spain’s first and second divisions soccer teams, save for Atletico de Madrid, Getafe and Betis, Brotons added.

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