Portugal is to get its first club TV channel, with the launch of Benfica TV on December 10.
Benfica TV will be initially exclusively available to the estimated 200,000 subscribers of Portugal Telecom’s IPTV and satellite platform Meo, before being added by IPTV operators AR Telecom, Clix and cable operator Cabovisão in January. For the moment, no carriage deal has been reached with Portugal’s largest pay-TV operator, Zon TV Cabo, which has 1.5 million subscribers.
According to Benfica TV producer, Domingos Soares Oliveira, by January 2009 the channel will be available in 700,000 households, with a one million target for the end of 2009. Negotiations are also underway to make the channel available in North America, Angola and Mozambique. Besides an initial start-up investment of more than €3 million, Benfica TV will have annual operational costs of €4 million.
Although Benfica TV will not air live coverage of the Portuguese Football League (the TV rights belong to Olivedesportos until 2013), viewers will be able to watch Benfica’s progress in the UEFA Cup.
In a related development, Zon TV Cabo launched its own sports channel, SCN, on November 26, with live coverage of the Olimpiakos-Benfica UEFA Cup tie. The Benfica football club filed a protest with the Regulating Body for Social Communications (ERC), claiming that the broadcast was illegal as it is was not previously authorised by the media regulator. For its part, the ERC explained that SNC has been issued an authorisation in June 2008 and is authorised to broadcast.