Global sports broadcaster Eleven Sports has ‘regrettably’ handed over its UK and Ireland rights for Italian soccer’s Serie A to Premier Sports, but has vowed to continue showing exclusive live coverage of Spain’s LaLiga until at least the end of the season.
As well as the top-flight Italian matches, pay-TV broadcaster Premier Sports will also take over Eleven’s live coverage of Dutch soccer’s Eredivisie from the end of February. Eleven will broadcast its last Serie A game on 25th February before the coverage switches exclusively to Premier Sports on 1st March.
In a statement confirming the move on Wednesday, Eleven said it was a ‘strategic decision we have taken to amicably end our partnership with IMG, the agency that manages these rights,’ adding that it had ‘the intention of continuing beyond’ the end of the season to show LaLiga games.
As a result, Eleven, which operates as a streaming service in the UK, will lower the price of a monthly pass for existing subscribers from UK£5.99 to UK£4.99 from 1st March. Eleven’s customers will also receive a special promotion offer to sign up to Premier Sports. Earlier this month, Eleven removed trhe option to purchase an annual pass in the UK and Ireland amid speculation that it could be forced to close its operation in the country.
‘At this stage, our priorities lie with our subscribers who we hope will experience minimal disruption as a result of these developments,’ Eleven’s statement added.
Eleven, which was founded by Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani, announced its move into the UK broadcast market last year after snapping up exclusive rights to LaLiga ahead of the 2018/19 season before adding rights to Serie A and the Eredivisie.
However, the service has encountered a number of issues, including failure to secure a carriage linear TV deal, technical problems and conflict with the UEFA statutes which prevent live soccer being shown between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on Saturdays in the UK.
Now, Eleven has vowed to concentrate on LaLiga, which will be the only live soccer available on the platform from the beginning of March.
‘The strategic direction we have chosen allows us to focus on LaLiga which not only drives real value for us in the UK and Ireland but is also a property which we continue to have a valued partnership with in five markets globally,’ Eleven said.
The loss of Serie A and Eredivisie coverage is the latest blow to Eleven’s UK operation after the network was forced to relinquish its Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) package in December. The failure to secure a distribution deal with a pay-TV operator left it in violation of its contract with the mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation.
Despite losing further flagship rights with the hand over of Serie A and the Eredivisie, Eleven said it ‘will continue to look for new rights opportunities to complement action from the Spanish league’.