On October 12, Spain had a soccer match against Belarus, a European qualifier for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be held in Brazil. The defending champion swept the away match 4-0. Surprisingly, however, it wasn’t broadcasted on TV in Spain because of the expensive televising rights fee involved. It was the first time that a European World Cup qualifier hadn’t been televised in Spain.
Sportifive, a French sports rights marketing agency, owned the televising rights to the Belarus match. Usually, Mediaset España broadcasts away matches of the Spanish national team in the country. But the two firms could not agree on the fee even on the morning of the day the qualifier was to be fought.
According to Mediaset España officers, the fee Sportifive first demanded was €3 million (about ￥300 million), which was cut later by half to €1.5 million. But it was still beyond what Mediaset España could pay. No other TV stations tried to bid for the broadcasting rights.
Needless to say, one of causes responsible for this case was Spain’s financial crisis. The crisis has hard hit the country’s various industries, and the TV industry was no exception. However, a bigger cause was the upsurge of broadcasting rights fees.
In the 1990’s, such fees were inexpensive, but the spread of satellite broadcasting and cable TV sent them soaring, especially for popular matches involving European soccer league clubs. A cutthroat competition among pay TV stations all over the world accelerated the surge.
An excessive commercialization of sports may be cited as one of factors behind the issues related to broadcasting rights. However, there is no doubt that the professionalization of sports has had the effect of upgrading play levels and motivation of athletes and that broadcasting has helped to make sports more popular among people. So one cannot categorically say that commercialization is harmful simply because it is closely linked to broadcasting rights.
Many people engaged in the business think that the situation where sports are supported by huge TV network broadcasts and exorbitant televising fees will undergo a major change in the future amid the ongoing development of the Internet and a resultant decline of TV broadcasting.
Written by: Riku Saito