GSRM eyes another Argentinian Superliga tender, targets rights outside football

Global Sports Rights Management, the agency that recently acquired the international rights to the top two Brazilian football leagues, remains interested in securing a similar remit with the Argentinian Superliga, after a controversial invitation to tender process was scrapped earlier this year.

Speaking to SportBusiness, GSRM chief executive Hernán Donnari flagged up the agency’s ongoing interest in the rights, while also expressing the company’s longer-term desire to represent rights-holders in the Americas in sports outside of football.

The Superliga called an end to the process in March, having initially called for bids to be submitted by January 20, but having been met with criticism from potential bidders about the specifications of the tender. The ITT process has still to be re-opened but Donnari highlighted GSRM’s willingness to bid when the auction resumes.

He said: “In the event that a tender is reopened, we are more than willing to participate on a new tender.

“Whatever the conditions and chances of good competition are, we will be there doing our best to promote our model and install our ideas.”

GSRM was founded last year as Argentina Sports Rights Management (ASRM) as it positioned itself to compete for the Argentinian Superliga contract.

Donnari, previously a leading figure at Fox Sports Latin America, is joined on the GSRM board by Matias and Raul Rivera, co-founders of the Fanatiz streaming platform, David Belmar, president of 1190 Sport, a Latin American sports rights management company, and Juan Arciniegas of Miami-based private investment firm 777 Partners.

An extension of the bid deadline came after rival bidders wrote to the Superliga to protest at the running of the tender process.

International pay-television broadcaster ESPN criticised a process it claimed was 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.

The process was also criticised by Mediapro, the Spain-based media rights and production agency, and Tele Red Imagen, the holding media company of Argentinian subscription broadcaster TyC Sports.

It was claimed that the original tender afforded ASRM the chance to match any bid so long as it was within 20 per cent of its own offer. Argentina’s La Nación newspaper also reported that the original ITT stipulated that 1 per cent of the value of the contract signed with the winning bidder would have to be paid to the ‘initiator’ company.

At the end of January, the Superliga announced that ASRM had “renounced its status as an initiator and the related benefits in this character” and invited media companies to “participate in the tender on the same terms and conditions as the rest of the interested parties”.

Torneos, the Argentinian rights agency, is the long-standing international rights-holder of the Superliga. Its current agreement is worth around $6m (€5.04m) per season.

Ambitions beyond football

Having only this month received the sign-off on its Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and Série B international rights contract as the new league seasons begun, Donnari told SportBusiness that all of GSRM’s “attention and energy is devoted to Brazil”, but shed some light on the agency’s future positioning.

Asked about the company’s plans to acquire more rights, he replied: “We feel like there are global opportunities and we’re aiming at many of them right now.

“Football is the most important sport [for us] but we’re not committed to only doing football.

“We believe there are rights-holder opportunities everywhere and mostly in the region where we have the better understanding [the Americas], know-how and network.”

GSRM CEO Hernán Donnari

GSRM is looking at opportunities around basketball, motor sports, rugby union and volleyball, according to the former executive vice-president at Fox Sports Latin America.

He added: “GSRM aims to make better revenues for the rights-holder. Whether the content is subscription-based, free TV or sponsorship sales-orientated, we believe there are opportunities to do better based on data intelligence, knowledge and the vision of how content is going to be distributed in the future.

“The industry is reinventing and we think we have a model that embraces that change and empowers the leagues and rights-holders to do better with their rights and make more money for the leagues, clubs  and players.”

GSRM has been awarded the exclusive international free-to-air, pay-television, pay-per-view and streaming rights to the top two Brazilian leagues from 2020 to 2023 and is also creating an international subscription over-the-top streaming platform to showcase matches.

GSRM will share revenues with the clubs in the OTT project. In the new tender guidelines issued in March, it was made clear that the winning rights bidder would assume the OTT platform development costs.

The agency is in the process of signing its first broadcast deal for the property as an agreement with Balkan pay-television broadcaster Arena Sport is signed off.