The so-called “Netflix of Sports,” Eleven Sports, controlled by Andrea Radrizzani, the owner of Leeds United, could face closure in the UK and Ireland. This closure follows after its failure to reel in the right amount of supporters.
The service launched only four months ago and had the rights to sports in the UK including Serie A from Italy, La Liga from Spain, and even the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Eleven Sports was forced to stop the controversial practice of broadcasting these European games on Saturday afternoons. Pressure from football stakeholders is looking to renegotiate any rights deals to avoid terminating the service altogether.
The situation began because of the UFC triggering an exit clause on their exclusive deal with Eleven Sports. It was due to start in January. Once the service was unable to keep their promised distribution through pay-TV platforms such as Sky, BT, and Virgin Media; Eleven Sports began to fade.
Eleven Sports Looks for Ways to Fight its Impending Failure
The service is looking to renegotiate their sports rights deals at a cheaper rate to keep itself operating on a smaller, commercially viable operation located in the UK.
A spokesperson for Eleven Sports stated that without their carriage agreements with their existing platforms and the challenges piracy present, the market dynamics in the UK and Ireland are not friendly towards new entrants. He claims that they are discussing with their rights partners IMG and La Liga on how they can reform their current agreements, so they continue the current OTT service.
The ever-popular mixed martial arts competition, UFC, should be back in the service with BT, the previous rights holder, on a new broadcast deal.
Eleven Sports is also getting ready to hand the rights to Serie A back to IMG. IMG acts as an agent allowing them to resell. The deal made in July was for three years, ending the six-year association between BT and Italy’s top league.
Back in May, Eleven Sports made a three-year deal with La Liga. That deal ended Sky’s 20-year association with the top-flight football league in Spain.
Since its UK launch in August, According to the Telegraph, Eleven Sports garnered nearly 50,000 subscriptions. The Telegraph is also the source breaking the news of the difficulties the server is facing. Eleven Sports charges £5.99 a month.
Rivals of Eleven Sports
The sports streaming service rivaling Eleven Sports is Dazn. The company mentioned it wouldn’t launch in the UK because of the competitive market. Dazn is live in seven countries around the world and by 2022 plans to be live in 20 markets.
The Hollywood talent agency, Endeavour, owns UFC and IMG. It also holds a small stake in Eleven Sports UK and Ireland.
Back in April, the Guardian mentioned that European Commission officials raided IMG and MP &Silva offices in London. The officials investigated potential sports rights cartels.
Investigators in Europe entered the IMG and MP & Silva offices in April as a part of a series of raids timed together. This included the 21st Century Fox subsidiary Fox Network Group based in west London. Ziggo Sport the Dutch subsidiary is also included, owned by Vodafone and Virgin Media parent Liberty Global.