Media: Telekom Serbia pays over 700 pct increase for Premier League rights

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Telekom Serbia, the majority state-owned telecommunication company, will pay around 100 million euros per season for the rights to Premier League (EPL) matches in the period 2022-28, which increased the EPL's value by more than that 700 percent, the SportBusiness website reported on Tuesday.

The current contract is worth 12 million euros per season in the period 2019-22, the website adds and says it is „by far the largest increase between the two cycles for ownership of rights to major sporting events in the near future.“

The author of the article, Kalum McCarthy, said that „the ‘feverish’ competition between Telekom Srbija and the United Group’s United Media led to one of the largest increases between the two cycles in the history of the sports media rights business,“ says

SportBusiness Media has confirmed that telecom operator Telekom Srbija will pay a total of about 600m euros ($ 695m) for exclusive rights to the Premier League during its six-season contract from 2022-23. to 2027-28.

The agreement covers Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Transmissions can be made in any of the mother tongues in each country, including Albanian.

Well-informed SportBusiness sources say that the contract – as with all six-season Premier League contracts in Europe – has been set back by 600 million euros to be paid in the last three seasons.

The rights to the Premier League in the Balkans were offered with the deadline for submitting bids on June 24. Telekom Srbija’s six-season contract was announced on July 21.

The website says it is difficult to calculate the exact percentage increase for the new cycle, compared to the previous ones, adding that in the current cycle, from 2019-20. by 2021-22, the United Media Group pays $ 13.5 million per season, for exclusive rights to the Premier League in the six countries of the former Yugoslavia. The arrangement does not cover rights in Kosovo.

The United Media contract was agreed with the IMG agency, which in the same three-season period bought exclusive rights to the Premier League throughout Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (not counting Albania and Kosovo). IMG’s contract is worth 40 million dollars per season, according to SportBusiness.

Telekom Srbija will use the rights on its Arena Sport subscriber channels throughout the region.

Its Te agreement for rights in the Premier League is the latest blow dealt by Telekom Srbija to its opponent United Media, in the fight for supremacy on the sports channels market in the Balkans.

That happened after Telekom Srbija paid, with an increase of 400 percent, for the renewal of exclusive rights to the Italian Serie A during three seasons, from 2021-22 to 2023-24, in an arrangement worth about 25 million euros per season, SportBusiness website said.

Other rightsholders who have benefited from Telekom Serbia „win at all costs“ mentality include the NBA – whose media rights have jumped more than 200 percent – and UEFA, which has seen a 133 percent increase in the value of media rights to its club competitions.

Critics – especially United Media – say Telecom Serbia’s ability to pay huge price increases is based on its state ownership, contrary to competition rules.

Vladimir Lucic, General Manager of Telekom Serbia, maintained that the purchase of sports content by Telekom was a pure business decision that would ultimately bring higher profits and dividends.

In addition, he rejected accusations that the telecommunications company’s strategy was, in fact, part of Serbia’s authorities’ broader strategy for acquiring ‘soft power’ in the Balkans.

United Media will have the last chance to retain the rights to top football competitions in the Balkans when the rights to matches of national teams in UEFA competitions are offered on the market.

UEFA should soon announce a tender for the rights to all qualifications and tournaments from 2022-23 to 2027-28. years, including the European Championships in 2024 and 2028.

In the 2018-19 to 2021-22 cycle, United Media has the rights to UEFA qualifier matches for the European Championship and the League of Nations and the rights to Euro 2020 in a contract worth a total of 35 million euros.

But, the value of the rights will almost certainly increase many times over in the new cycle, SportBusiness estimates.

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