Tebas spells out LaLiga rights goals, questions raised over Sky deal

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has declared revenue goals for the top division of Spanish football’s next rights package and said it will stage matches outside its home market in the next two seasons, as UK rights-holder Sky is reportedly facing renewed pressure to retain its long-running contract.

LaLiga rights are currently being marketed in certain overseas markets and a domestic tender for rights from the 2019-20 season is poised to be launched.

Tebas has said LaLiga expects to earn €2.3bn ($2.9bn) per season from its media rights within three seasons. LaLiga currently generates around €1bn per season for its domestic rights, and a further €650m per season from its international rights. Tebas said new contracts should bring in about €1.3bn per season for domestic rights and €1bn per season internationally, if negotiations progress smoothly.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, Tebas said LaLiga wants to have new domestic deals settled by the end of the 2017-18 season, adding that Barcelona and Real Madrid are expected to gain around €220m per season in the next cycle, with the lowest-ranked clubs set to secure around €60m.

Barcelona earned the biggest television rights payment in LaLiga last season despite rival Real winning the title. LaLiga disclosed revenue payments for the 2016-17 season in January, with Barcelona securing a record €146.2m, €6.2m more than the prior campaign. By contrast, Real gained €140.1m, with the league as a whole paying out €1.247bn to its 20 clubs, versus €1.237bn in 2015-16.

Tebas told AS that LaLiga is seeking to shore up its position in the global sports and entertainment market. “The goal is to become a leading entertainment industry in the world,” he said. “We compete with the big leagues and with Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO… we must be prepared: 70 per cent of the income comes through TV. You have to have new windows and not be passive. If not, we will stop being a great league in four years.”

Regarding the potential for overseas games, Tebas said: “Yes. And in the short term. In the next two seasons. I speak of one of 380 matches. Never a Clásico or a derby. We are analysing pros and cons. Our competition, such as the NBA, already does this. Why not we?”

Tebas also said piracy poses a bigger threat than the commercial power of the English Premier League. He added: “We lose about €500m a year (to piracy). The Premier League begins to affect you, but not at our level. The problem of piracy is going to be reduced. We have already dropped it by six per cent. It is a long-term struggle. In 10 years we are going to eliminate it.”

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail newspaper has said LaLiga has rejected pay-television broadcaster Sky’s offer to extend its rights deal in the UK and Ireland. Sky is said to have made an offer worth less than the £18m (€20.6m/$25.6m) per season it currently pays for the rights.

Sky last extended its rights agreement for LaLiga in August 2015. The deal for the UK and Ireland was for three seasons, from 2015-16 to 2017-18, and took Sky’s partnership with LaLiga into its 20th year. The renewal came despite UK media reports that Sky had withdrawn from the tender to secure LaLiga rights, clearing the way for rival BT Sport to add the Spanish top flight to its European football portfolio.