The power struggle that is rocking European football has drawn much criticism from former players, pundits and politicians. Now it could reshape the broadcasting rights deals that underpin the multi-billion dollar industry.
“The public is declining, the rights are declining and something had to be done,” European Super League president Florentino Perez told the Spanish television show “El Chiringuito de Jugones” on Monday.
“When there is a change, there are always people who oppose it… and we are doing this to save football at this critical moment,” said Perez, who is also president of Real Madrid, taking up the gauntlet for what a long and complex battle for broadcasting rights.
Announced on Sunday, the ESL was founded with 12 of Europe’s richest teams in a bid to rival the UEFA Champions League format, which is currently Europe’s premier annual club competition. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called the Super League an “outrageous, selfish proposal” and a “spit in the face” for fans.
According to the latest financial report, UEFA gets nearly $4 billion a year from media rights for all of its competitions. Broadcast rights accounted for more than 85% of total revenue, followed by commercial rights (12.8%) and tickets and hospitality (1.3%).
“Once you get a fight between the UEFA Champions League and the European Super League, you’re basically fighting for the same slot on a Wednesday night, 8pm European time, which will have an impact on the prices people are willing to pay. James Walton, leader of Deloitte’s sports business group, told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday.
“Nobody knows yet who they are going to try to sell these TV rights, but the first names thrown into the mix are some of the online providers: Disney, Amazon and Netflix,” he said.
The Financial Times reported Monday that ESL organizers had early talks with Comcast-owned Facebook, Amazon, Disney and Sky to win broadcast deals, without going into the discussions.
Facebook said Monday it is not in talks to acquire broadcast rights, according to a Reuters report. While Amazon has been given exclusive rights to show Champions League matches in Italy and Germany from 2021 to 2024, sources say it is not in talks with the European Super League at this time.
Other broadcasters distance themselves from the feud. “We have not been involved in discussions with the proposed European Super League break,” Sky said in a statement to CNBC.
Others, including British pay-TV channel BT Sport, which paid $2.2 billion to retain exclusive broadcasting rights to the Champions League until 2024, have condemned the plan, saying the breakaway group could undermine existing contracts and affect the sport’s future. could threaten.
“BT recognizes the concerns expressed by many of football’s key voices and fans, and believes the formation of a European Super League could have a detrimental effect on the long-term health of football in this country,” BT said in a statement to CNBC.
Rights to show the lucrative games are hard fought between broadcasters around the world, who use the content to generate advertising and subscription revenue. However, as consumption and advertising habits change rapidly, a Deloitte study says sports fans are looking for more technologically advanced and personalized solutions to deliver high-quality content, at the right time and through the right channel.
“We don’t yet know who the broadcaster is or if any have signed up to be on board, but we expect it to be some over-the-top streaming provider looking to package this sport in different ways,” said Daniel Plumley. , a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University who specializes in English professional football.
“It is no coincidence to me that the timing of this announcement is related to the pandemic,” Plumley added. “We know football clubs are struggling, even the bigger ones, and as in any broader economic situation, the bigger players in the market are trying to take advantage in times of recession or times of financial hardship.”
Analysts say rival broadcast packages could be worth hundreds of millions a year as shifting advertising and viewership trends and the impact of the pandemic push viewers further away from traditional linear television to streaming platforms.
“Both sides seem to be in this battle for the long haul,” Walton said. “You can expect every day in the coming weeks, there will be developments in this story.”
Disclosure: Comcast, owner of CNBC parent NBCUniversal, owns Sky.
Correction: Florentino Perez’s title has been updated to correctly reflect his role as European Super League president.