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MADRID — Marking the start of a new era for the commercialization of Spanish soccer TV rights, Spain’s LFP Professional Footbal League Assn. has raised at least €2.95 billion ($3.25 billion) after selling to Telefonica, Mediapro and a Vodafone-Orange joint-venture the three main batches of LaLiga TV rights from the 2016-17 to the 2018-19 seasons.

For the first time ever, the LFP, under prexy Javier Tebas, has auctioned Spain’s Liga and Copa del Rey soccer competitions in blocks, in an attempt to maximize returns on Spanish soccer TV rights, approaching sales levels of the English Premier League, Europe’s richest soccer championship.

Through its pay TV service Movistar Plus, giant telco Telefonica will pay $0.83 billion for broadcasting, under the slot El Partidazo, at least one match of Leo Messi’s Barcelona or Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid each match day, plus a crunch Barcelona-Real Madrid game each season.

Barcelona-based rights broker Mediapro will pay $2.1 billion for the highest price lot, an eight-match package per match day – in a third choice, after Movistar’s El Partidazo and a free-to-air game – plus the matches of the Copa del Rey competition, excepting its semifinals and final. The games acquired by Mediapro will air on channel Bein Sport, a joint-venture with Qatar-based network Al Jazeera.

The batch number five of the LFP’s auction, referred to broadcast soccer rights in public establishments, mainly bars, has been won by a joint-venture formed by telcos Vodafone and Orange for $330 million for the next three seasons, a figure which could be increased by a uptick of up to $33 million.

In upcoming dates, LaLiga will convene a new auction for the four blocks of free-to-air TV soccer rights still awaiting adjudication.

The block-.auction of Spanish soccer TV rights, centralized at the LFP -in the past, every soccer club negotiated independently with TV rights brokers and operators- will clearly suppose higher revenues: Just counting awarded lots, it raise $1.08 billion per season. Last season’s LaLiga earned some $0.66 billion.

“The only way to have access to all soccer rights in Spain is negotiating among all TV operators. They are condemned to reach an agreement,” said a Madrid-based analyst.

“Mediapro’s Bein Sport needs access to the 3.8 million subscribers of Telefonica’s Movistar, and Movistar not only needs Mediapro’s eight LaLiga matches package but also those from the European soccer Champions League TV,” he added.

In August, Mediapro started to broadcast the Champions League soccer games via Bein Sport, which Vodafone and Orange include on their respective pay TV services.  Movistar declined to acquire the Champions League TV rights, reportedly because of the high price asked by Mediapro.

However, some 600,000 of Movistar’s 3.8 million total subscribers joined Telefonica’s pay TV platform after a $10.9 agressive monthly offer that expires by the end of December.

“Current Movistar’s Arpu turns around $22 to $27.7, with which the offer looks like a very large subsidy. For Telefonica, it should be cheaper to put up the difference acquiring more soccer rights from Mediapro in order to prevent large subscriber churn,” the analyst said.

“The new TV rights exploitation model is here to stay and it is highly possible that, during the next few years, LaLiga will continue to increase prices TV operators will have to pay,” he concluded.