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Telefónica denies Champions League deal for OTT provider

Telefónica has denied doing any deal with online TV provider Opensport for Champions League football rights after the latter claimed that it had struck an agreement with the telco to transmit coverage of the tournament as part of its streaming sports offering.

Telefónica told the El Español business newspaper that it had agreed to provide its El Partizado channel, which covers key matches from Spain’s top-tier domestic league, but that it had not struck any deal to provide Champions League coverage.

Opensport has said it will offer “all football” for a monthly fee of €19.99, indicating that it will provide La Liga, the Champions League and Europa Ligue, Spanish second-tier football channel La Liga 1|2|3 and the best matches from the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 over the web.

According to newspaper El País, the OTT TV provider has said it will offer three tiers of subscription – El Partizado and La Liga 1|2|3 for €7.99 and, from September, a Plan Partizado + Champions tier, which will also include the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 competitions, for €15.99. According to the newspaper, the streamer has also said it will provide a Plan Todo Fútbol offering including La Liga and the European competitions fro €19.99.

However, Opensport is currently only promoting its inclusion of Telefónica’s Movistar Partizado channel and Mediapro’s BeIN Liga channel on its homepage.

Telefónica has agreed a distribution deal with telco Orange for its Champions League and Europa League channel, and is currently in talks with Mediapro to provide the service as part of the latter’s streaming offering BeIN Connect.

Both Telefónica and Orange have deliberately targeted Vodafone’s customers base following the operator’s decision not to offer the Movistar football line-up. Howevere an online offering – whether from Opensport or BeIN Connect – could provide a potential alternative for football fans who subscribe to Vodafone’s telecom and TV services other than switching provider.

Earlier this year, Spanish regulator the CNMC approved the dropping of moves to sanction Mediapro for abuse of its position in premium football rights relating to the Champions League following a complaint from Opensport, after a compromise deal was reached. The OTT TV provider had claimed that Mediapro was abusing its dominant position in the premium pay TV sector thanks to its control of Champions League and La Liga rights, aired on the BeIN Sports and BeIN La Liga channels.

The dropping of the case was conditional on Mediapro making its pay TV services available to OTT TV players including Opensport on fair and non-discriminatory terms, equivalent to those already enjoyed by traditional pay TV operators including Telefónica and which take into account the scale of operations of new OTT players. However, Mediapro subsequently sold its rights to the Champions League to Telefónica, leaving it to third parties to strike a deal with the telco for redistribution of its Champions League service for the current season.