Ekstraklasa pens European broadcast deals ahead of restart

Poland’s Ekstraklasa has struck broadcast deals in some key European markets as the league continues its preparations to return to action on May 29 following the Covid-19 shutdown.

The top-tier football league, which sells its international broadcast rights in-house, has been marketing rights to two fixtures per match round. The rights are non-exclusive as the matches will also be shown internationally on the league’s Ekstraklasa.tv OTT platform.

Free-to-air digital terrestrial channel FreeSports has secured rights in the UK and Ireland for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. FreeSports, which is the sister channel of pay-television broadcaster Premier Sports, already holds rights to LaLiga, Portgual’s Primeira Liga, Serie A and Major League Soccer.

Spring Media, the Stockholm-based agency, has been awarded the distribution rights in Denmark, Norway and Sweden for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. The agency has already sublicensed rights in Norway to Amedia, the publishing group that operates the sports streaming platform Direktesport.

In Israel, pay-television broadcaster Charlton has acquired rights to two matches per round for the remainder of this season and the full 2020-21 season. The matches will be shown on Charlton’s Sport 1, Sport1 HD and Sport 2 channels.

Meanwhile, the existing rights agreement in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with Sportdigital Fussball, the subscription sports channel, has been expanded to include 10 more matches. Sportdigital, which holds the rights until the end of the 2020-21 season, will be able to show 40 fixtures during the remainder of this campaign.

Also in German-speaking countries, Discovery-owned sports broadcaster Eurosport has picked up rights to show matches on a delayed basis.

Marcin Animucki, the Ekstraklasa president, said today (Friday): “On the basis of fully-executed agreements, matches of PKO Bank Polski Ekstraklasa will be broadcast in at least 16 territories this season and we expect the next contracts to be signed in May or at the beginning of June.”

Rights are being sold to a total of 22 matches across the remainder of the season (two matches per round across the remaining 11 match weeks).

Broadcasters can access high-definition coverage produced by between nine and 13 cameras and with international commentary. Signal pick-up costs at BT Tower are to be borne by the broadcaster.

Headline clashes amongst the next set of fixtures include Lech Poznan against Legia Warsaw on May 30.

The Ekstraklasa last month dropped the pay wall for Ekstraklasa.tv as it looked to keep fans engaged in the absence of live games due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ekstraklasa.tv ordinarily costs €6.99 ($7.62) per month, with a season pass priced at €49.99. Content outside of live matches, such as highlights, league news and archive content, is provided free of charge. Ekstraklasa.tv launched for international markets in August 2019, with a price of €2.99 for live matches bought on a pay-per-view basis.

The streaming on the OTT platform is available worldwide, with the exception of Poland and also the Balkans, where Austria-owned broadcaster Planet Sport signed a two-season rights deal at the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

Małgorzata Borkowska, media rights consultant at Ekstraklasa, said: “The promotion of our streaming platform Ekstraklasa.TV is a key element of our negotiations with foreign partners. Using this unique opportunity, we also hope to further grow our subscriber base.

“We have just launched the Ekstraklasa.TV Android application, which will further expand the availability of our content. There are three times more Android device users than those of iOS . Therefore, we expect a significant increase in the number of the Ekstraklasa.TV downloads, as well as in the number of video views and subscriptions.

“We are currently working on Apple TV and Smart.TV applications, which should be available from the 2020-21 season.”