The importance of sports rights for pay-TV operators has been strongly underlined by recent developments in Poland.
Just this week, we saw Polsat, the country’s leading commercial broadcaster, secure those to both the Champions League and Europa League for three seasons, beginning 2018/19. What was particularly significant was not the amount paid for the rights – estimated at between €100-110 million – but that they were exclusive and had for some time been held by rival nc+.
Needless to say, this was a major blow for nc+, which conceded as much in a statement in which it said it had tried its best to retain the rights. It also reassured its customers that some games from the Champions League would still be made available to them on FTA channels.
Nc+ was also able to announce the following day that it had for the first time secured the exclusive rights to the Volleyball Champions League CEV for men and women for the seasons 2018/19 and 2019/20. Although these are certainly not as prestigious as the Champions League or Europa League, it should be borne in mind that volleyball is a hugely popular sport in Poland. Moreover, the rights have until now been held for a number of years by Cyfrowy Polsat, Polsat’s parent company.
Although it can be argued that nc+ came out second best in this week’s developments, nc+ remains in an extremely strong position in the provision of sports programming. The rights it currently holds include the Premier League, Poland’s top football league Lotto Ekstraklasa, several speedway tournaments (PGE Ekstraliga, Speedway Grand Prix and Speedway World Cup), the NBA and golf’s European Tour, Grand Slam: PGA Championship and US Open.
As if to underline the point, as this week drew to a close nc+ announced it had also secured the TV rights to the FIA World Rally Championship for the rest of this season and the whole of the 2018 season.
What has happened in Poland in the last few days is far from unique and only serves to show the importance that pay-TV operators still attach to sports rights.