Eleven Sports loses Serie A rights in break with IMG

30 Jan 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

Eleven Sports has ended its partnership with IMG – a move that will lead to the end of Serie A and Eredivisie coverage over its subscription OTT platform in the UK and Ireland.

Premier Sports is to take over the UK rights to both properties from the end of February 2019.

It follows Eleven’s loss of its UK UFC rights at the end of last year, triggered by the Aser company’s failure to secure a TV carriage deal.

Announcing the move on social media, Eleven Sports sought to reassure subscribers that LaLiga coverage would remain on the platform, at least until the end of the season, with talks ongoing to secure the long-term deal.

It confirmed that the platform’s subscription prices are to be reduced in response to the loss of the Dutch and Italian league rights.

Eleven Sports, which holds Serie A rights in a number of other markets, launched in the UK in August with a marketing campaign that focussed heavily on the Italian league, following the summer move of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

The media firm’s UK operation was launched as a joint venture with IMG, which manages the UK rights to Serie A and Eredivisie, and has produced the coverage from its West London headquarters.

Rights deals lasting three years each were announced for LaLiga and Serie A in summer 2018.

Eleven Sports sought to disrupt the UK sport broadcast market with its aggressive pricing plan and much-vaunted “platform agnostic” model, which centres on third-party carriage agreements complementing a direct-to-consumer OTT offering.

But Mark Watson, Eleven’s Executive Chairman, who previously oversaw the successful launch of fellow challenger BT Sport, had warned in December of market “hostility,” citing “rampant piracy” among the factors holding back the fledgling platform in the UK and Ireland.

Eleven’s latest statement concluded: “The strategic direction we have chosen allows us to focus on LaLiga which not only drives real value for us in the UK and Ireland but is also a property which we continue to have a valued partnership with five markets globally.

“Since our launch in the UK and Ireland, we have shown more live football than anyone else, all at a very reasonable cost for football fans.  We are pleased to be able to continue to serve fans with leading action from LaLiga, including El Clasico on Saturday 2 March and an exciting conclusion to one of the most competitive LaLiga seasons in recent memory.  

“We will continue to look for new rights opportunities to complement action from the Spanish league.”