Eleven Sports UK, home of La Liga and Serie A, closing after only 4 months?
Eleven Sports, which holds the UK broadcasting rights for La Liga and Serie A, is reportedly at risk of closing down operations after only four months of operations.
However it is now reported to be in danger of shutting down following its failure to secure distribution via established pay-TV operators and amid concern over mounting losses.
The Telegraph has learnt that Eleven Sports is considering pulling the plug on its UK operation after the mixed martial arts competition UFC triggered an exit clause on its exclusive deal, which was due to begin in January. Crisis talks with other rights holders are ongoing in hope that part of the business can be salvaged.
The UFC deal, agreed in September, required Eleven Sports to guarantee widespread distribution via established pay-TV operators such as Sky, Virgin Media and BT, as well as its own streaming apps.
However, talks with Virgin Media collapsed last month when the cable operator refused Eleven Sports’ demands on pricing. Meanwhile Sky and BT, which both spend heavily on sports rights for their own channels, have been taking a wait-and-see approach to their new challenger and have not entered detailed dialogue about distributing its coverage.
UFC is this week in emergency discussions about a new deal with its existing partner BT Sport to ensure fans can continue to access
Eleven Sports also owns the UK rights to top-flight Italian and Spanish football. It is believed to be preparing to hand back the broadcast television rights to Serie A’s agent IMG and La Liga to allow them to be resold.
An Eleven Sports spokesman said: ‘Without carriage agreements with the existing platforms, alongside the challenges posed by rampant piracy, the current market dynamics in the UK and Ireland are very hostile for new entrants.
‘We are in discussions 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 industry sources Eleven Sports has attracted only about 50,000 subscriptions since its UK launch in August. It charges £5.99 a month for its streaming service, delivering an estimated monthly income of less than £300,000, a long way short of its costs for sports rights and production
UFC UK rights returns to BT Sports, as Eleven Sports could not satisfy the contractual requirements.