Doubts over Sports Flick Champions League deal in Australia
Soccer - 19 Apr 2021
Sports Flick, the Australian over-the-top subscription platform, is in danger of losing its contract to show European soccer’s top-tier Uefa Champions League in the next rights cycle due to an inability to secure funding, it has been reported.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper has claimed that Sports Flick, which only launched in early 2019, has been unable to get financial guarantees from banks for the three-year, A$60 million deal, encompassing the 2021-22 to 2023-24 seasons, and that Uefa has therefore started contacting rival bidders to gauge interest.
The deal between Sports Flick, governing body Uefa and the latter’s Team Marketing agency partner was first reported at the start of last month.
It is understood that Stan, the video streaming platform that is a subsidiary of commercial broadcaster Nine, has been one of the rival outlets approached.
A consultant involved in the bid told the Herald: “Being a startup, there are significant complexities and challenges which have prolonged the process, and are not as straightforward as the public would expect.”
When Sports Flick, launched by Dylan Azzopardi two years ago, secured Champions League rights for the next cycle, displacing incumbent broadcaster Optus, it was reported that the platform's offer was considerably higher than the amount being presently paid out by the telecoms group.
When it was first reported, the deal with Uefa was seen as a significant challenge to established subscription platforms in Australia, including Optus and Foxtel, the News Corp-owned pay-TV broadcaster which has rights to multiple top-tier soccer properties.
Up until that point, Sports Flick had only landed a handful of sports rights contracts, although these have included the Uefa Women's Champions League.
Other properties on the platform have included Korean soccer’s K-League, Australian domestic baseball, the recent cricket tour of Bangladesh by the West Indies, the European Cricket League and XFC, the Australian mixed martial arts production.
Domestically, Sports Flick is available for A$14.99 per month, or A$99.99 annually, and shows content via its website and a mobile app.
Before Optus, Champions League rights were held by international pay-television operator BeIN Sports from 2015 to 2018.
Elsewhere, this year’s Champions League semi-final tie between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will not be shown on free-to-air TV in France, despite previous suggestions from rights-holder Altice that the presence of a local team would encourage it to do so.
L’Equipe has reported that Altice, the European media and telecoms group, has made a final decision to show the two legs of the tie - on 28 April and then on 4 May - only on RMC Sport, one of its pay-TV channels, and not to offer them up for a free-to-air platform as well.
Earlier this month, discussions were held between RMC Sport and free-to-air commercial broadcaster TF1 over the possibility of coverage rights for the two games being shared, but these talks have not resulted in an agreement.
However, as the Champions League final is considered an event of national importance, RMC Sport is required by French law to share live coverage of that match with a free-to-air broadcaster.
TF1 pulled an average of 11.4 million viewers for PSG’s defeat by Bayern in last year’s final.
RMC Sport is in the last year of a three-year rights deal for the Champions League and Europa League, with pay-TV duo Canal Plus and BeIN Sports to be the main broadcasters of the elite tournament from next season.
For a subscription broadcaster, the Altice-owned channel drew sizeable audiences for the two quarter-final matches this year between PSG and Bayern, with 977,000 tuning in for the second leg, which PSG lost 1-0 at home, after 938,000 watched the first leg, won 3-2 by the French side, which ultimately progressed on the away goals rule.
Meanwhile, Uefa has launched a tender process to find a graphic design services provider/s for its competitions between 2021 and 2024.
The governing body has initially launched an invitation to express interest (ITEI) for companies wanting to provide brand production and signage services for its various top-tier competitions - both club-based and for national teams - during the 2021-22 to 2023-24 rights cycle.
Companies should reply, stating their interest and providing all necessary documentation, to firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than 2pm (CET) on 7 May.
The tender itself will then be issued to those companies on 7 June, and the appointment is scheduled to be made in late July.
The Uefa competitions include club soccer's Champions League, Europa League and new Europa Conference League, which will launch next season, as well as the Women’s Champions League, and the Nations League and the European Championships in 2024.
The brand production aspect will include gifts to be sent to broadcasters, sponsors and guests, while the signage aspect will revolve around “print stadium interior and exterior branding".