Sport, and in particular football, remains one of the main drivers for the TV industry in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
While the viewing figures for this week’s Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United have yet to be released, they will certainly have run into many millions in the region as a whole.
Securing rights to such major international sporting events, and indeed domestic football competitions, continues to be a major priority for many broadcasters. Just in the last few days we have seen Poland’s Polsat and ITI, the operator of the TVN-branded channels, obtain those for the Champions League – internet and mobile, as well as TV – for the next three seasons. At the same time, Canal+ has extended those it holds for the Spanish La Liga, again for the same period.
Meanwhile Romania’s RCS/RDS has been reported to be on the verge of securing the rights to the national football league in Hungary, in doing so beating off a rival bid from RTL Klub, the latter’s leading broadcaster.
In Romania itself, RCS/RDS, which owns one of the country’s two largest cable operators and a DTH platform, only earlier this month, and in partnership with Antena 1, secured the rights to its main football league (the First League).
Elsewhere, we have recently reported on efforts by Russia’s NTV-Plus to sublicense the rights it holds to the Rogosstrakh Championship for the 2009-2010. These apparently failed to attract a single bid, and it remains unclear as to what the DTH platform’s next course of action will be.
The real value of football was arguably demonstrated at the Champions League final in Rome, which Sportbusiness.com says was worth over €310 million to the European economy.
Euro 2012, the first major football tournament to be ever held in CEE, will certainly benefit the host countries Poland and Ukraine financially, though by how much no one yet knows.
It will also attract huge interest from the TV industry. Indeed, UEFA officially opened a tender for European media rights to the tournament this February, and two months later made its first award – to the Polish public broadcaster TVP, which was commended for the “quality of its offer.”
More highly lucrative rights awards to other broadcasters in the region are set to follow in the months to come.