US media group Liberty Global has sold its cable network UPC Switzerland to Swiss telco Sunrise Communications for a total of CHF 6.3bn ($6.3bn/€5.5bn), which includes taking on CHF 3.6bn of UPC’s debt.
It is unknown how the deal will affect Sunrise’s sports-rights strategy going forward. Sunrise has a distribution deal with rival telco Swisscom to carry its Teleclub channels.
UPC currently hold rights to the most valuable property in the market; Switzerland’s domestic ice hockey league, the National League. Since signing that deal in July 2016, UPC – which exploits rights on its MySports channel – has been in a battle for sports rights with Swisscom.
One local expert has suggested to SportBusiness Media that the deal could be a positive one for the Swiss Football League. It is thought the league will tender its domestic rights – from 2021-22 – later this year. With UPC’s ownership now settled, the league will hope for a similar battle for rights that it received when it previously tendered rights back in 2016.
Then, Teleclub fought off stiff competition from UPC to acquire rights from the league in a four-season deal, from 2017-18 to 2020-21.