Big Interview - MP & Silva

26 Sep 2012

Andrea Radrizzani, MP & Silva Group CEO, speaks to sportindustry.biz about its global media rights, and the increasing popularity of football around the world.

MP & Silva have worked across a variety of sports, how do media rights differ from sport to sport?

In my opinion football media rights differ from all other sports. In football the revenues coming from media rights are in a percentage far more relevant than the ones coming from sponsorship. In other sports the value of media is similar or even lower than the income generated by sponsors.

An aggressive financial approach could be the key to acquire football rights; in other sports the distribution strategy and visibility of the event could be just as important, and sometimes even more, than the financial commitment.

You work a lot with tennis, particularly the French Open, what attracted MP & Silva to the sport?

Football and tennis are the most global sports. Both sports are “evergreen”, and attract interest from fans all over the world. As a result, there is always a demand from media companies.

You are bidding for the international rights for the Premier League, how highly do you rate the League as a global asset in sport?

Of course the Premier League is the most attractive Football League in the world and for many territories it is the content that drives subscriptions for Pay TV Operators. Besides the UEFA Champions League (over 13 weeks) and  World Cup or European Championship (every 2 years) I think the top 3 leagues (EPL, La Liga, Serie A) represent the “must have” content to satisfy the pay-viewers on a weekly basis.  

You have had a lot of success with the international rights of Leagues such as Serie A. Is the plan for the Premier League more of the same?

Serie A is a flagship property for MP Silva but in the last few years we have been able to acquire and distribute successfully other football rights such as Ligue 1, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, Football League, World Cup, Euro qualifiers and the Premier League in Vietnam and Japan. 

We intend to continue our relationship with the Premier League and hopefully expand it, acquiring more territories. We will analyse carefully the opportunities and the structure of the different markets and we will bid where we believe our role could be beneficial to both the League and broadcasters, as we have done in the past.

Earlier this year, you also acquired the rights across Asia for the Capital One Cup and the Football League - are you seeing a bigger appetite for football at all levels across the Asian market?

Yes, there is a strong interest for football in Asia. Unfortunately the time zone penalises a lot of the potential audience but in the last few years some Leagues have made an effort to change some time slots in order to be more visible in the Far East. In the Football League, some clubs such as Cardiff, Leicester and Blackburn are owned by Asian entrepreneurs and some clubs - such as Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Bolton -  have a glorious past in the Premier League. This calibre of team in the league makes The Championship a more appealing product for Asia. 

It is becoming more common practice now to tour pre-season abroad, with Manchester United travelling to Asia/South Africa etc., while City headed to the USA - is this a sign that the Premier League and the sport in general is becoming more global?

The big football teams have requests to play everywhere. Sometimes they decide to accommodate the sponsor’s requests, sometimes they select places according to the financial offers, the technical requirements of the coach or the facilities - which makes the USA a popular destination for teams as it compromises all three elements.  

Recently Arsenal decided to invest in building the brand across China and South East Asia and have supported the project with a Pre-Season Tour in the same area for the last 2 years.

You have a lot of experience in different markets. What is the key rule when entering a new market?

The key is to know the market very well, being present, meeting the key decision makers, opinion leaders and stimulate new potential players. Then when you know the marketplace exactly, you should be brave and look “outside the box” to find a different way to maximize the result of your project. 

What makes MP & Silva unique as an agency?

It’s all about the people. Our activity is to focus on service and relationships, clients and partners are happy if we deliver and it’s not always easy to make both happy when often they have opposite interests. So far we have been able to build good trust and reputation on our team.

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