Ecuadorian football clubs secure control of broadcast rights

The 24 clubs of the Primera Categoría Serie A and Serie B, the top two divisions of Ecuadorian football, have regained control of the broadcast rights to the leagues.

The Ecuadorian Football Federation (FEF) has accepted the request of the clubs, which will now negotiate domestic and international rights deals for the leagues following a five-year period in which the federation has handled talks.

The decision comes following a period of turmoil in the broadcast of Ecuadorian football. Earlier this month, pay-television broadcaster DirecTV saw its sole bid for the rights to the Primera Categoría Serie A and Serie B rejected by the FEF, leading to the clubs discussing the potential for seizing control of the commercial rights to the leagues.

The FEF announced that DirecTV, which put forward the only offer in a new bidding process, had its proposal rejected as it did not meet two key requirements of the tender released on March 8. Last June, the FEF unveiled a 10-year deal with pan-regional pay-television broadcaster GolTV, granting the company rights to the Primera Categoría Serie A and Serie B for 10 years, from 2018 to 2027.

The contract was worth a guaranteed $276m (€222.4m) but was challenged in the courts amid unease as to how the rights were awarded. In a ruling last month, it was determined that a new rights contest be held, stating that the deal between GolTV and the FEF should be considered null and void.

Tito Manjarrez, president of Serie A club El Nacional, warned that despite teams securing control of the rights, fans should not expect an imminent return of action to their television screens.

“I don’t think you can watch football this weekend, it's a process that takes time, but the important thing is that the first step was taken,” Manjarrez said, according to local newspaper El Universo.

“It should be clear that although the clubs have TV rights, we have to negotiate as a block and not each on their own. Now we must analyse as a block who is going to transmit the football.”