Market Insight

Fox and Turner win league football rights in Argentina

March 17, 2017  | Subscribers Only

Matteo Marchello Matteo Marchello Senior Research Analyst – Channels, Programming, IHS Markit
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A new era for Argentinian football began this week, when the AFA (Argentinian Football Association) sold the rights to broadcast all the games of the domestic league to Fox and Turner. The new contract will start from 1 August 2017 – after the end of the current season – and it will last at least for the next five seasons, although the deal includes an option for an additional period of the same length.

Fox and Turner will jointly pay an initial deposit of 1,200 million pesos ($77 million) on top of the annual fee of 3,200 million pesos ($206 million), which will constantly increase through the term of the deal at an undisclosed rate. This is the outcome of more of three weeks of intense negotiations between several parts, which was put in place with the declared intentions of the government to reform from its roots the TV rights allocation in the country.

Fox and Turner will share the exclusive rights to broadcast all the games of the Argentinian premier division, although it is still to be clarified what platform they will use. Fox already operates seven cable channels in the country and is the owner of rights to the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana (the two most important club tournaments in the continent). According to local press reports,Turner might launch a new channel dedicated to domestic football (named Turner Sports or TNT Sports).

Our analysis

The system currently in use (based on the free-to-access platform Futbol para todos) was widely criticised in the past as we said a note published one year ago, as - according to president Macri – it held back investments by international companies. Therefore, the contract between AFA and the platform owned by El Clarin and TyC was terminated a few months ahead of the initially-agreed expiry date.

The agreement signed between AFA and the US companies has historic relevance as the football rights of the Argentinian football have never been allocated using a tender process and have never been in the hands of a foreign operator.

Despite this, this reform was expected and it can be considered only the latest step of the long-term plan of Mauricio Macri to reform the football industry; in fact, the political agenda of the prime minister elected in December 2015 included the liberalisation of the sector and the introduction of measures to make the allocation of the TV rights more competitive. In this sense, this political move is consistent with the decision, taken earlier this year, to loosen the regulatory boundaries on several media industries such as cable TV, internet and fixed and mobile phone lines.

The options available for Fox and Turner are incredibly wide. In fact, the two US operators can exploit their international expertise and their portfolio of TV rights to develop a completely new platform for the Latin America market. According to the rumours already spread, in fact, the two companies might launch  an OTT platform, including all the most important football events in the continent. in the new year.

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