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Orange stays committed to football in Spain following Vodafone withdrawal

Orange does not expect an expected rise in football-related costs in Spain to be particularly significant or damaging, and retaining a strong football offering remains “the right strategy” for the operator, according to Laurent Paillassot, deputy CEO of Orange Group.

Laurent Paillassot

Speaking to analysts following Orange’s Q2 results this week, Paillasot said that Orange expected to absorb about 20% of the overall increase in costs for football, based on the fact that costs are attributed proportionally with the number of subscribers signed up by each operator. He said Telefónica would absorb 80% of the increase in costs resulting from Vodafone’s decision to pull out.

Paillasot said that Orange saw more upside from retaining football, which he said would give it an opportunity to capture “probably 50%” of Vodafone’s base of football subscribers who wanted to change provider.

His comments follow Spanish press reports that Orange’s bill for Telefónica’s El Partizado La Liga service and the Champions League offering following Vodafone’s decision not to strike and deal with the Spanish operator would rise significantly.

Paillasot said that “something like 65%” of Orange’s pay TV customers watched its football offering in Spain, compared with about 35% for Vodafone, which has a larger overall base of customers.

He said that giving up football would not be the right strategy for Orange, which would now be “able to compete head-to-head with Telefónica” as well as capturing customers from Vodafone.

Separately, Orange Group CEO Stéphane Richard told analysts that the company did not want to enter the sports rights business in France, competing with Mediapro, Canal+ and BeIN Sports. He said that Orange was “relatively comfortable” with its TV performance, with the largest IPTV base in the country and a series of distribution agreements giving it access to content.