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Mediapro among bidders for Uruguay football rights as offers ‘exceed expectations’

The Uruguayan Football Federation (AUF) has received three offers for its international rights to the national team’s qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup.

Mediapro, the Barcelona-based rights agency and production group, TyC Sports, the Torneos-owned Argentina-based pay-TV broadcaster, and Servisky, the Ecuadorian media group, are all thought to have submitted bids by yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) deadline.

The invitation to tender was issued last month and covers Uruguay’s nine home qualifying fixtures along with the home leg of a potential play-off match.

The AUF told ECOS, the Uruguayan news website, that the three offers received were “very satisfactory” and “exceeded widely our expectations and the offers for the last World Cup qualifiers.”

The Full Play agency held the international rights to Uruguay’s nine home qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup, paying $6m (€5.4m). Under that agreement, Full Play, as the major distributor of World Cup qualifying games in the Conmebol zone, gave the AUF the broadcast rights in Uruguay to 81 qualifiers played elsewhere in South America. These rights were subsequently sold on by the national federation to the Tenfield agency in a wider package for $12m.

The offers from Mediapro, TyC Sports and Servisky are reported to be “vastly higher” than the $6m fee paid by Full Play previously.

The AUF’s executive board did not award any rights after the receipt of the bids but has instructed the national association’s broadcast rights committee to analyse the proposals further.

Jorge Casales, the AUF executive board member responsible for national teams and competitions, told ECOS: “The proposals are not comparable numerically as one may be financially superior, but another offers reciprocity for the games that Uruguay plays away from home.” Mediapro, which has been looking to acquire the Torneos agency, and Servisky are particularly active players in the sale of rights to other South American teams’ home games.

Along with multi-platform free-to-air and pay-television rights to Uruguay’s home qualifiers, the inventory on offer also includes static and virtual advertising rights during the broadcasts. The AUF specified that it would reserve a section of the perimeter boards for its own sponsors.

Production and satellite uplink costs are to be covered by the federation, which will ensure a high-definition host broadcast with at least 12 cameras.

In the absence of a wider agency agreement, the AUF has been selling rights to its home friendly games on a match-by-match basis as it seeks a more permanent agreement for the World Cup qualifiers, which will begin in March 2020.

The AUF’s broadcast rights committee decided to run the sale of domestic and international broadcast rights to the 2022 World Cup qualifying matches in two stages, with the sale of domestic rights to follow at a later date.

Domestic rights to six-game friendly package

Meanwhile, an ITT process for domestic broadcast rights to Uruguay’s six friendly matches played between September and November has failed to attract any offers.

The AUF initiated the domestic sales process last month, inviting bids cable, satellite or over-the-air subscription broadcasters in Uruguay to lodge their offers for the six-game package.

However, there were no bids lodged by the specified September 3 deadline.

The AUF had valued the package, which also includes pitchside advertising rights at the friendly games and media rights to the final stages of Uruguay’s National Club Cup, at around $1m.

The lack of interest from linear broadcasters now means that the Friday’s clash between Costa Rica and Uruguay looks set to be only available to fans of the away side via a live stream. The rights on offer were non-exclusive as the AUF specified in its invitation to tender document that it would be also be able to strike deals with streaming platforms.

The six friendly games in question include just one home match, namely the home game against Peru on October 11. Uruguay will face away games in USA (September 10), Peru (October 16) and Hungary (November 15), while the opponents for a match on November 9 have yet to be named.

The AUF has not ruled out the friendly games being shown on a major domestic channel such as the government-owned TNU but is now set to explore other options. It was reported in Uruguay that the AUF could opt to showcase the games on AUF TV, its own television channel, should bids from broadcasters be deemed insufficient.