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New report paints mixed picture for Europe’s football rights landscape

Enders Analysis releases ‘European football: An opportunity to reset’ report highlighting a ‘mixed bag’ of outlooks for leagues and broadcasters that should be seized as an opportunity for reform

A new report from Enders Analysis has highlighted a mixed outlook for stakeholders in football broadcasting rights across Europe. The ‘European football: An opportunity to reset’ report offers an intriguing analysis of a broadcast rights licensing landscape which has been materially impacted by the global pandemic, highlighting the need for reform to balance the competitive ecosystem. 

The Covid-19 crisis is said to be compounding already harsh economic outlooks for rights sales in continental Europe, particularly for leagues in more financially exposed states of health such as France and Italy. According to the report, the recent landscape provides sobering reading when adding in the financial losses suffered by stakeholders during the lockdown period. 

“UEFA’s Champions League, still auctioning its 2021-24 cycle, has managed increases of about 20 per cent in Germany and France, but prices were lower on a like-for-like basis in the UK and Spain,” says an extract from the report.

“Revealingly, the Italian auction, initially scheduled for February, has yet to be concluded. Last October, we argued that the market had probably peaked, a call we would stick to considering the outlook for auctions in Germany and Italy for seasons starting in 2021 where DAZN, Sky’s main rival, appears weakened by the coronavirus crisis to the point of openly seeking new investors. French prospects are also down; from August most rights go to Mediapro which may well withdraw as it did in Italy in 2018, after failing to sub-licence to a partner platform.”

Even prior to the crisis, the report points to low average club profitability with the latest UEFA annual report on club finances showing a “degradation of profitability” in the 2018 fiscal year. With this summer’s transfer activity likely to be significantly reduced, Italy’s Serie A possibly looking for private equity investment, and France’s Ligue 1 having already obtained a government loan, a bleak picture is emerging for Europe’s football rights landscape. 

The conclusion of Enders’ analysis is that the current situation should be seized upon by football’s main protagonists to reset, imploring, “We argue that the COVID-19 moment has to be seized by the football ecosystem’s most solid actors, the pay-TV operators, to drive a reform agenda to increase the competitiveness of the Italian and French leagues, a leadership push that could eventually be replicated elsewhere.” 

The full report is available to subscribers on the Enders Analysis website.