Barcelona-Based Mediapro Has Transformed La Liga’s Broadcasts, But With Some Questions To Answer

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Anyone who has caught a glimpse of Spanish soccer lately may have noticed something in its overall coverage. When it comes to camera angles and visuals, its broadcasts are flashy. And with more and more ideas and technology for airing games, they are getting flashier by the year.

La Liga rights holders receive comprehensive footage and effects through audiovisual company Mediapro, responsible for much of the league’s broadcasts outright. The result is comprehensive in-game coverage, intersected by match statistics, tactical diagrams and dynamic shots.

Behind the setup, there is big money too. Mediapro has paid millions of dollars for La Liga rights in bar establishments and has promised much more in lucrative broadcast contracts outside Spain. To match the costs, it brings high quality. But things have not always been plain sailing for the Barcelona-based company. More on that shortly.

What exactly is Mediapro?

Unlike paid services DAZN and Movistar — now the two main La Liga rights-holders in the country after a deal worth nearly € 5 billion ($ 5.5 billion) —Mediapro is not consigned to one role on the broadcasting front. Instead, it incorporates state-of-the-art footage and plays a role in deciding what goes out on television when fans gather to watch El Clásico and other top-tier fixtures each year.

The company also assists in changing the way people watch the league. With countless minutes of video — recorded by drones and novel pitch-side devices to complement the more traditional cameras — viewers can consume games from multiple vantage points.

Moreover, it has influenced where many watch them. Towards the end of the season, Real Sociedad against Real Betis streamed on the social media platform TikTok via Gol, one of the broadcaster’s channels, and over half a million pairs of eyes tuned in. The experiment followed another Real Sociedad game, this time versus Athletic Club during the previous campaign, which went live on Twitch. On both counts, the motivation was to attract a wider audience, which it achieved.

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A checked track record

When expanding abroad, Mediapro has faced difficulties, however. While it still boasts Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi — all PSG players — France’s Ligue 1 would have grown more in status two seasons ago had an expensive deal between the broadcaster and the division worked out.

In need of investment and with its clubs struggling financially, Ligue 1 struck a four-year TV rights agreement worth over € 3 million ($ 3.5 million) with Mediapro. In the end, both parties were naive.

The league failed to hold matches due to the pandemic, and, with the money not coming in from paying subscribers, Mediapro could not stump up the agreed cash from its side of the bargain. Clubs expected income that never arrived, ruining their economic forecasts. Ligue 1 was too quick to jump at the opportunity, despite the company failure to make inroads into Italy’s Serie A market before negotiations even started in France.

Besides, there is a debate regarding how people want their soccer anyway. Mediapro boasts a rich visual experience, but who’s to say it’s the best out there?

Where it goes from here

Spain is a better place for Mediapro to operate. With the agreed CVC investment offering financial prosperity to La Liga clubs — excluding opposition from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Club — the league’s sides are less desperate to secure revenue streams, which was not the case in France. That furor left it with questions to answer.

Indeed, for what Mediapro offers, it makes sense to stay with La Liga instead of dominating rights abroad and banking on a return from high-stakes investments. The company has also helped bring La Liga to life in recent seasons, making El Clásico more cinematic for those watching, even if they lack the quality of previous showdowns. That looks set to continue.

And that’s where the organization’s value best lies.

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