SPORTEL America Buzz
EPL Talk and MLS Talk attended the 2009 SPORTEL America conference the past several days. Here are some of the points of conversation. Typically we don’t report on gossip on this site (other sites specialize in that) but we felt the need to bring you some of this information as one of the few American based reporters provided access to the conference.
- ESPN is smarting from losing the UEFA Champions League rights in Latin America to FOX. While it is thought ESPN may have not submitted a serious bid for Premier League rights in the US, they may have changed their tune after losing a very valuable property.
- FOX will be keeping the Copa Libertadoras rights in the US for the foreseeable future. Copa Sudamaericana could face some bidding, but is overall a less valuable and less lucrative property than the Copa Libertadoras.
- GOL TV as announced this morning has kept English and Spanish language La Liga rights until 2012 for the US market.
- GOL TV will be working to maintain Bundesliga rights in the US when that comes up for bidding this summer. GOL TV has both English and Spanish language rights for the Bundesliga, and the German National Team in the US. The package has performed well for GOL TV since the network wrestled the rights away from FSC three years ago.
- The new UEFA Champions League rights package in the US will be announced within the next week. Setanta, FSC, and ESPN have all submitted bids.
- Setanta has acquired the English Language rights for the COMNEBOL World Cup qualifiers in 2009. This news was announced before the conference, but is newsworthy from our perspective as it is Setanta’s first major foray away from European based football. It also will increase Setanta’s overall profile in several key US markets and help the network get on more cable systems.
- Traffic Sports the owners of Miami FC are almost 100% certain to operate the USL-1 team in 2009 but are concerned about the South Florida market. The Brazilian based football marketing company is committed to USL as a league more than they are committed to the Miami market. This is just my hunch, but if Miami FC does not turn things around by 2010, I think Traffic rather than pulling the plug will move the team. I think Miami FC has survived due more to Traffic’s desire to work within USL, a league whose profile has increased greatly in Latin America in the last 12 months, than any particular loyalty to the Miami market.
- Many European based football pundits were curious about the Puerto Rico Islanders and why USL outperformed MLS in CONCACAF. One London based pundit of note told me that it really reflects poorly on MLS more than favorably on USL.
- ESPN and FSC will not be dumping MLS. While ESPN is unhappy with the performance of the package they feel they have protected the product by lowering internal expectations and also taking it off of a valuable network time slot. ESPN may concede sometime in the future that their stated goals for MLS viewership were unrealistic, for a league that still doesn’t have a comprehensive national footprint.
- We will have much more buzz and breaking news from the conference on forthcoming episodes of the EPL Talk and MLS Talk podcasts.
- UPDATE: The interview by The Gaffer of EPL Talk (with a single question from Kartik Krishnaiyer of MLS Talk about Broadband rights) with Setanta Sports has been released and is now posted here.