Sport Klub CEO says TV rights prices increased by up to 800 percent

NEWS 10.02.2022 18:08
Source: AFP/Franck Fife

Sport Klub cable TV station CEO Nemanja Simeunovic told N1 on Thursday that the cost of TV rights to sports events in the countries of the former Yugoslavia have gone up by as much as 800 percent because of Telekom Serbia.

Simeunovic recalled that the state-owned Telekom Serbia paid 600 million Euro for the TV rights to the English Premier League over a period of 6 years after buying the rights to the French football league for 5.5 million Euro a season, up from the 600,000 it paid earlier. Simeunovic said that real market price for the French football TV rights is under a million.

“Everyone involved with sports rights for this region is astounded and disbelieving. Those prices are untenable for any company operating on market principles because that is unprofitable not just for the Balkan countries but for countries much richer than us with greater populations and higher subscription prices. Unfortunately, you can find yourself facing not healthy competition but a state apparatus using every available resource to destroy the competition. We have drawn attention to the precedent allowed only in Serbia and we expect European competition protection bodies to speak out so that the Serbian public can learn who approved the waste of money in their name,” he said.

Telekom Serbia’s acquisitions were also reported by Sport Business Media news service which covers TV rights for sports events at global level. It said that BeIN Media Group secured a monstrous raise for the rights to the French top football league in the the Balkans over the next three seasons as part of one of the most lucrative deals for that league’s TV rights.

BeIN, the media distributor for French football internationally for six seasons (2018/19 to 2023/24) will get 5.5 million Euro a season from Telekom Serbia for the 2021-24 seasons.

Telekom Pays Better Than British and Germans

The deal is 800 percent more expensive than the 600,000 Euro a year paid for the 2018-21 period by Telekom Serbia which owns Arena Sport. The value of that contract is far above the value of similar deals in key international markets such as Brazil, the rest of Latin America, Great Britain and Germany, Sport Business Media said. It recalled United Group’s failure to outbid Telekom Serbia.

Sport Business Media said that those rights were not the only ones whose price went up in the Balkans in the intense competition between Telekom Serbia and United Group which owns Sport Klub. Their bidding war led to one of the highest rises in prices paid by media outlets ever when Telekom Serbia agreed to pay an average 100 million Euro a season for the Premier League rights (2022/23-2927/28). United Group is paying some 12 million Euro a season on its three year deal from 2019 to 2022, it recalled.

400 Percent increase for Italian Serie A

The report said that the InFront company also secured a huge price rise for Italian Serie A rights with Telekom Serbia agreeing to pay 25 million Euro a season from 2021/22 to 2023/24. That is an increase of 400 percent rise from the 5 million Euro that the state-owned telecommunications giant paid for each of the previous three seasons.

LaLiga reported an increase of 40 percent to 12.5 million Euro a season.

According to Sport business media, Telekom’s frantic spending has met with serious criticism in the region, including from United Media which feels that the whole thing is endangering the competition.

The report recalled that Telekom Serbia CEO Vladimir Lucic told local media that the purchase of the TV rights were guided solely by business reasons. Interest in the French league exploded with the recent arrival of Lionel Messi whose transfer caused upsets at global level with a lot of interest in the purchase of Uber Eats rights for the French league through BeIN Sports, Sport Business Media said.