Just four months in but the OOTP service may be facing closure for its UK operations after it failed to sign an exclusive rights deal with local tele operator for UFC.
Eleven Sports, the self-proclaimed Netflix of Sports, has been a popular streaming service globally. In 2018, it started its operations in UK amidst an ongoing deal with several broadcasters. According to the deal it seeked to secure exclusive rights for an exclusive streaming of key sporting events including UFC. With the talks between Eleven Sports and Virgin Media coming to an end, UFC is in emergency talks with BT Sports who is a current partner.
Currently, the both parties are seeking rapid negotiations to ensure digital image along the online channel considering Italy Serie A and La Liga Soccer Leagues.
It is expected that the streaming service may resort to steeping discounts in order to secure a deal. The service is owned by Leed United owner, Andrea Radrizzani.
Streaming on Saturdays
Eleven Sports faced huge backlash and faced legal trouble after it was found in violation of Football Association’s law that prohibits broadcasting games on Saturday between 2:45 PM and 5:15 PM, in the UK. This happened in October 2018, after it played the La Liga matches. This is just months after stream’s CEO Marc Watson claimed that a legal deal is not really a necessity for Pay-TV.
This may very well prove to be a stopper on Eleven Sport’s ambitious operations. However, the company is currently aiming to gain footing by starting discussions with major stakeholders. The UFC used an exit clause in the contract after it did not receive the promised distribution on the network that was due.
This came as a huge blow couple with FA’s actions displeasure against the sporting service. The distribution platforms under questions included Sky Sports, Virgin Media and BT.
A Spokesman from Eleven Sports has reportedly disclosed that; “We are in discussion with our rights partners, La Liga and IMG, about how we can restructure our existing agreements in order to continue our current OTT [streaming] service.”
According to the Telegraph, the streaming service has only been able to achieve a grand total of 50,000 subscriptions since its launch of UK operations in August 2018. Currently, it was charging 5.99 GBP a month.
Eleven Sports has several key-players who are at its back. The Hollywood Agency Endeavour, that has owns UFC and IMG has a minority stake in the company. The operations of Eleven Sports are Poland and Portugal under the holding company Aser which is owned by Radrizzani. The Guardian back in April last year, that the London offices were raided by EC officials in order to investigate a tip about potential sports rights cartels.
What does the future holds?
Right now, the main focus of Eleven Sports is not to secure a deal but rather secure its operations in the UK arguably on cheaper rates now. However, the company is currently running successful operations in Portugal and Italy.