La Liga free-to-air match switches to Marca from La Sexta

Marca TV, the digital-terrestrial channel managed by the Mediapro agency, acquired the exclusive rights to one live Spanish Liga football free-to-air match per week in 2012-13 to 2014-15.

Marca TV acquired the rights from Mediapro, which sells domestic and international rights for the league.

The first match under the deal will be Getafe v Real Mallorca on October 1. Highlights rights for all matches are included in the deal but have a minimal rights value.

The incumbent rights-holder, commercial broadcaster La Sexta, which has also been showing the weekly free-to-air game so far this season, was understood to have paid about €100 million per season for non-exclusive rights to the match in the previous three-year deal, from to 2009-10 to 2011-12. La Sexta is also owned by the Mediapro agency, although it is in the process of being sold.

In the previous cycle regional broadcasters TV3 in Catalunya, Canal Nou in Valencia, Telemadrid in Madrid and IB3 in the Balearic Islands also acquired non-exclusive rights for the match for a combined fee of about €30 million per season.

The value of the deal has fallen because Real Madrid and Barcelona games will not be shown free-to-air in the new cycle. Last season, there were 15 free-to-air matches featuring the teams, including one Clásico.

The value has also been hit by the move of the match from its primetime Saturday time slot to a less attractive slot late on Monday night.

The poor health of the Spanish advertising market also affected the rights value.

In a deal beginning this season, Marca has also acquired rights to Spain’s second division, Liga Adelante, from which it will show four live matches per week, and the Spanish cup.

Also in the deal beginning this season, pay-television broadcaster Digital Plus has exclusive live rights to the first-pick game from the second division and the first-pick cup match per round. It will show both first-pick matches on its general-entertainment channel Canal Plus One.

The decision by Mediapro to sell the free-to-air rights to Marca TV came on the back of government approval for the sale of La Sexta to the Grupo Planeta publishing group. Grupo Planeta will now control up to eight digital terrestrial television channels – Antena 3, Neox, Nova, Nitro, La Sexta, Xplora, La Sexta3 and a channel frequency currently leased to premium football channel Gol T – and account for about 42 per cent of the television advertising market.

It is the second television merger in the Spanish commercial television market in the last two years, and leaves it dominated by a duopoly: Telecinco-Cuatro and Grupo Planeta’s Antena 3-La Sexta. The two groups control around 85 per cent of the television advertising market.