Betting Streaming Rights for Spanish Soccer Come Under Fire

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF, for its Spanish acronym) is in the process of negotiating betting streaming rights for major soccer events in the country. However, it might run into some trouble, as Spain’s competition watchdog has voiced concern over how the RFEF is implementing its plan.

FC Barcelona players celebrate winning Spain’s Copa del Rey soccer championship in 2021. The country’s leading soccer federation is negotiating a new streaming rights deal for games, but a competitions watchdog feels the arrangement may violate established laws. (Image: FC Barcelona)

Streaming is becoming a big business – bigger than cable TV in some markets. This is particularly true of sports streaming, as organizations seek to draw the entire international crowd.

The RFEF is hoping to take advantage of the growth to extend global exposure to the Copa Del Rey and Super Cup soccer tournaments. However, the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC, for its Spanish acronym) doesn’t believe the organization is presenting its tender in a fair and transparent light.

Back To The Drawing Board

The CNMC, which is responsible for ensuring fair consumer markets, told the RFEF that it should make some changes in the marketing of the streaming rights of the events. In particular, the watchdog wants the organization to revise its bidding guidelines to better respect the principles of competition and non-discrimination.

The CNMC only offered recommendations, not demands. However, it pointed out that the tender might be in violation of Spanish law, which could lead to problems for the RFEF.

The watchdog specifically referred to a Spanish law that has been on the books since 2015. It discusses streaming rights of soccer events, but the CNMC didn’t specify which sections the RFEF may possibly be violating.

It did provide a couple of clues, though. The CNMC wants the RFEF to clarify whether the rights are tendered in three lots – Spain, North America and the rest of the world – or in a single lot. In addition, the organization needs to better spell out the terms for the preparation and presentation of offers and the request for clarification.

There is also concern that the language of the tender gives “excessive discretion” to the RFEF in how it selects the winner of the tender. In other words, the tender doesn’t lay out in detail the terms and conditions that the RFEF will use to make its decision.

The RFEF, which broke off its streaming relationship with Fuchs Sports in March, presented its tender this past July. In it, the outfit explicitly stated that it followed the 2015 law in developing its streaming rights program.

In addition, the RFEF said the new agreement will be valid for the next three seasons. Confusingly, the CNMC suggested in its report that the organization limit the deal to three seasons. This was obviously already in place.

RFEF Becomes Money-Making Machine

Since the entry of the new executive team a little over four years ago, the RFEF has turned itself around. The private entity does not receive public subsidies and has improved its financial position. It has gone from a budget of €146 million (US$144.51 million) in 2018 to €406 million (US$401.9 million) this year.

The RFEF has undergone a complete transformation. In 2017, it had a net profit of €8 million (US$7.92 million). Now, as of last year, that figure had jumped to €32.8 million (US$32.46 million).

The improvement has come from three different areas. First, the RFEF has experienced growth in income from sponsors. This has improved by 175.15% since 2018.

In addition, streaming rights have become extremely important. Income from the rights has grown by 110.84% ​​over the same four years. Lastly, income from competitions, including the new Super Cup format, has experienced the greatest growth. It has skyrocketed 262.91%.

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