Spanish telecoms operator Telefónica is to retain the exclusive rights to the Uefa Champions League for the 2021-24 cycle, it has been reported.
The rights will be exploited on the telco’s Movistar+ pay-television platform, reported Palco23. It is not yet clear whether the deal, if and when it is confirmed, would also include the Uefa Europa League and the newly-formed Europa Conference League for the same cycle.
Both Telefónica and Uefa declined to comment when approached by SportBusiness.
Movistar+ holds the rights in the current cycle, albeit in a sublicensing deal after rights and production agency Mediapro and pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports acquired them in the 2017 sales process. Mediapro and beIN had formed a joint channels venture in 2015, but sold the rights on to Telefónica after beIN shuttered its operation in the territory.
Mediapro and beIN’s acquisition of those rights in the current cycle brought an end to free-to-air coverage of the Champions League in Spain, which had previously been available on commercial broadcaster Atresmedia and Catalan public broadcaster TV3. Free-to-air coverage of one Europa League fixture per match day is available in the current cycle, however, on Gol, the Mediapro-owned channel.
Team Marketing, Uefa’s exclusive sales agency for club competitions, issued two concurrent tenders in early February; one covering the rights to the Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Uefa Youth League, while the other included the rights to the Europa League and Europa Conference League.
The deadline for first-round bids was 10am (CET) on March 10.
The Champions League rights were divided into five packages for the first time in an effort to boost competition in a market which has suffered from Telefónica’s financial dominance in recent years.
Package ‘A1’ included the 16 first-pick Tuesday-evening matches each season, plus 33 magazine programmes (per season). Rights to 16 first-pick Wednesday-evening matches each season were included in package ‘A2’, along with rights to the Champions League final and the Super Cup (plus 33 magazine programmes). The rights included live match programmes, full match re-runs and clips.
Meanwhile, Package B included a total of 104 live matches per season (plus 33 magazine programmes) or, in other words, the Champions League matches not selected in Packages A1 and A2. Delayed and archive rights, plus the rights to the Uefa Youth League, were also part of this package.
Finally, Packages C1 and C2 pertained to highlights programmes on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, respectively. Highlights rights to the Champions League final and Super Cup were included in package C2.