Calamitous Argentinian Superliga international rights tender is scrapped

The widely-criticised international broadcast rights sales process led by Argentina’s Superliga, the top-tier of domestic football in the South American country, has been scrapped.

Announcing the news, the Superliga said that a “new process for the award of international broadcast rights will be communicated soon”.

The Superliga said that it had decided to terminate the invitation to tender for the “implementation of a transformational model of comprehensive marketing of the rights” of the league.

Bids in the tender process, which covered the rights from the 2020-21 season onwards, were initially due to be submitted by January 20. However, the bid deadline was then extended with various parties unhappy at the way in which the tender documents were set out.

Torneos, the Argentinian rights agency, is the long-standing international rights-holder of the Superliga. Its current agreement is worth around $6m (€5.5m) per season and, last October, the league was reported to have rebuffed an offer worth $8m per season.

News of the termination of the ill-fated tender process follows the recent appointment of Marcelo Tinelli as the league’s president. Tinelli replaced Mariano Elizondo.

The extension of the deadline came after international pay-television broadcaster ESPN wrote to the Superliga expressing its “absolute disagreement” with the tender process. Within its letter, ESPN criticised a tender process issued “under short deadlines and with many questionable aspects”. The bidding terms and conditions of the tender also contained “ambiguous, confusing and inaccurate points,” according to ESPN.

Mediapro, the production and media rights agency, then joined the growing number of broadcasters and agencies calling for the Superliga to reissue the tender. The ITT was issued with the protracted takeover of Torneos by Mediapro still to be completed.

At the end of January, the Superliga then further extended the process by 60 days and revised the tender process.

As the invitation to tender launched, it was reported that the league was looking to raise $15m per season from the sale of international rights and “other types of commercial rights”.

Pay-television broadcasters Fox Sports and Turner hold the league’s domestic rights, having bought them in a five-year deal in 2017. The duo are active across Latin America and are sure to be interested in the rights across the region.

International betting rights to the Superliga are held by Stats Perform. In September last year, the sports data and technology firm announced a new five-year agreement with the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) that comprises betting video rights and data rights to the Superliga, Copa de la Superliga, Copa Argentina and Recopa Argentina.

In 2016, Torneos renegotiated a rights deal with the AFA covering the country’s national team and the lower-league National B Division and First Division B competitions.