Sports rights business and the pandemic impact star in the last Sportv Series Latin America panel

The last panel that took place as part of the Sportv Series Latin America 2020 virtual event,  developed on October 6th and organized by Dataxis, was titled ‘The challenge of sports rights dealings during the pandemia’.

Some of the key discussion topics hovered around how to negotiate sports broadcasting rights deals in a Covid-19 world; which sports right has become more attractive in the pandemic scenario; what can we expect for 2021 and beyond; and what happened with sports rights value chain in 2020 with cancellations, postponing and modifications. For the discussion, Dataxis gathered a panel of industry specialists, made up of Carlos Lajud Catalan, Communications Director at the Division Mayor de Futbol Colombiano (Dimayor); Luis Baraldi, Vice President at Grupo Pachuca; Mauricio Correa Peña, General Manager Colombia at Mediapro; Alejandro Mercado, CEO at PX Sports; and Andres Nieto Serpa, Director Latin America  at Claro Sports.

In relation to the sports deals negotiation in 2021 during the ‘new normality, Lajud Catalan said that ‘fortunately, our deals are normally long-term. We had to make the right holders sure that players would be fine, and take a series of measures that raised our costs’, said the executive, who then remarked that ‘in Colombia, the amount of Covid tests that are done per week are very high, and the profit margin is much lower’. According to the executive, these issues ‘must be included in the negotiations, as well as not knowing what is going to happen’. Lajud also opined that 2021 is ‘very uncertain’, adding that ‘we are currently lengthening the championships and we are trying to get the seasons to start, end and start the new ones quickly next year (around January 3rd), with the aim of satisfying the sponsors and all those who are involved in this.

‘As far as Grupo Pachuca is concerned, we have several clubs in different parts of the American continent, and the situation is really complicated, because each country is different and rights are handled in different ways. There is a Fox Sports sales problem in Mexico, and that concerns us. The Group had to abide by the conditions of each channel that is broadcasting to us’, said Baraldi. This way, he also explained that the channels ‘are not paying us what they paid us before. We are not having the income that we had before, and the sponsors are also having problems and have cut off certain important sponsorships. It is starting to be so difficult in football terms’. In relation to other rights such as the Davis Cup, and others, ‘we have noticed that our clients have supported us, but they will start to put conditions around January or February, which is when I think this economic crisis will begin’. The executive also said that 0we must be prepared to renegotiate each of the deals’.

According to Correa Peña, regarding the start of the Qualifiers for the next World Cup, he assured that ‘today, in Brazil, there is no one who pays 10% of the value that was paid in the previous Qualifiers for a Brazilian National Team’s match. This is already beginning to denote a very complicated situation in the macroeconomic framework. Additionally, as there is more demand for content through digital platforms, sponsoring suffers, because also the global and consumer economy does. So, the sponsor cannot make the same monetization as before’.

‘Programmers must be creative enough to be able to motivate engagement not only with the audience, which is captivated at home, but with the sponsor, who is not getting the return it wants. Programmers are a very important piece’, reported Baraldi. In addition, Mercado assured that ‘within the negotiations with athletes, we involve them in such a way that they also have to know that they need to communicate within their networks on which platforms the events will take place. Within the negotiation of rights, we are making these athletes aware, so that they help generate engagement. Athletes become influencers, and that has been helping us to help our brands and sponsors so that the impact they had on the event is received on social networks, platforms and cable operators’. According to Nieto Serpa, ‘knowing how to use social networks, and encouraging responsible and serious use, engages people and allows those who are locked up at home to speak. At this time we have to help ourselves and be creative’.

Regarding the development of the Copa Libertadores and other sporting events, Correa Peña assured that ‘we must have a more long-term vision than a short-term one. Big events like Copa America and Copa Libertadores are going to have to rearrange themselves and put aside the dispute over income’. Likewise, Nieto Serpa highlighted that ‘today there is a very great relevance for data, because there is a very large output in the digital field. The offer is great, but what is relevant is the quality of the products, and how the user is convinced to end up consuming the product’.

‘Consumers have changed their habits’, said Correa Peña. ‘Millennials and centennials have habits totally opposite to what right holders, broadcasters or OTT platforms usually had. Today a millennial or a centennial is more interested in the data than in the development of the match’. Lajud also stressed that ‘we managed to get an audience that we did not have before’.