Eleven Sports has just hit the big time by securing the exclusive rights to LaLiga in the UK and Ireland, previously held by Sky for 20 years.
The deal, which is for three seasons starting 2018/19, raises more questions than it gives answers. Will the company, for instance, launch its own channel in the two countries or sub-licence the rights to third parties? Does it have plans to take on the ‘big two’, namely Sky and BT, in competing for other key sports rights at some stage in the future?
Eleven Sports was established in 2015 and is owned by the Italian entrepreneur Andrea Radrizzani, a co-founder of the TV sports rights company MP & Silva Worldwide. His other interests include the English Championship football club Leeds United, which he took over last year.
Readers of Broadband TV News will be aware that Eleven Sports is particularly active in Poland. It has been present in the country since 2015 and has multi-year distribution agreements in place with all of its the leading cable operators and DTH platforms.
Moreover, the company now operates no fewer than four channels in Poland – Eleven Sports 1-4 inclusive – and late last year began offering content in 4K, working in partnership with the incumbent Orange Polska.
More recently, it acquired LaLiga rights for three years jointly with Canal+, extended its live and exclusive Serie A rights, also for three years, and began streaming Bundesliga live on Facebook.
Although Eleven Sports’ activities in CEE are currently confined to Poland, it is also present in several other countries, both in Europe and Asia.
Furthermore, it is established in the US, where its service Eleven Prime, offering a variety of sports, has been available on the platform Twitch since earlier this year.
The company’s latest LaLiga deal for the UK and Ireland nevertheless feels like a key moment in its history and may yet prove to be game changer.