UEFA surprisingly last week chose a newly created subsidiary of CAA Sports to exclusively sell the commercial rights for Euro 2016 as well as qualifying events for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, marking the agency's biggest push -- and gamble -- into the lucrative global soccer business, according to Liz Mullen of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The subsidiary, CAA Eleven, was chosen over fellow finalists IMG and Sportfive after an almost eight-month process that was thought to have drawn interest from dozens of companies, said CAA Managing Director Michael Rubel. It is the largest global commercial rights assignment for CAA. CAA also represents Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona for property sales. While it is not clear exactly how much the rights are worth, Euro 2012 generated in excess of $1.6B in revenue, according to published reports. Rubel said that CAA began planning to bid for the rights early this year, and during the spring it began conversations with veteran media execs Olivier Guiguet and Stéphane Schindler, who left Lagardère Group-owned Sportfive last year. Guiguet will serve as CEO and Schindler as COO of CAA Eleven; both are partners with CAA Sports in the new company. Mark Noonan, president of sports marketing firm FocalSport and former executive vice president of MLS, said: "It is a huge coup for CAA. It is one of the biggest properties in the soccer world and one of the crown jewels out there." UEFA reportedly has guaranteed the 53 federations it governs more than $1B as part of the deal with CAA Eleven. UEFA did not respond to requests for comment. Rubel said that CAA made no guarantee as part of the deal. Rubel said, "This is a straight agency relationship. The rights weren’t bought and there is no guarantee" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/8 issue).
Record attendances for the opening round of the A-League have been matched by record TV ratings and web hits as Football Federation Australia Thursday "basked in the glory of the most popular first week in the competition's history," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. A-League broadcaster Fox Sports "boasted its highest-rating" weekend of football coverage. Figures released Thursday by OzTam show that "an average of 108,000" watched Fox Sports' live coverage of the five games. The Melbourne derby between Victory and Heart topped the charts at 129,000 viewers, followed by the debut of Western Sydney against Central Coast, which attracted an audience of 123,000.
The Sydney FC-Wellington match had 109,000 viewers watching Alessandro Del Piero's A-League debut. It was "the highest-rating Phoenix home game." The TV figures come on top of a total of 93,000 that attended the games, "making it both the biggest opening round and single-round aggregate in the eight seasons of the competition." FFA CEO Ben Buckley said, "The excitement generated by new marquee players and new coaches has been converted into fans on the terraces and viewers on screens" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/9). The AAP reported that departing FFA CEO Buckley "will be hoping record A-League attendance and broadcast figures translate into big bucks at the TV rights negotiations table." With one year left on the media deal, Buckley is "in the midst of negotiating a new broadcast contract before his departure next month." It is thought a new five-year deal worth more than A$40M ($40.9M) a season "will leave the game in decent shape, and a free-to-air TV deal will be crucial in the new broadcast structure" (AAP, 10/9).
Fox Sports revealed that it will have a camera pointed solely on Alessandro Del Piero during Sydney FC's match against the Newcastle Jets at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday, according to Ray Gatt. Fans who cannot get enough of the Italian "will be in heaven." In a first for football in Australia, fans will be able to follow Del Piero's every move during the game, "providing a rare insight into what makes him so good." A Fox Sports spokesperson said, "For as long as he is on the field, Isocam will capture his every movement, his runs with and off the ball, his passes and, hopefully, his goals. We have done this before in rugby league but never in football." The spokesperson added, "If you don't have Fox, that's not a problem. Just go to the Fox Sports website and click on the camera. You won't be able to watch the game, but you can watch Del Piero" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/9).
In Spain, the Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid Sunday was watched by 1.856 million viewers on pay-TV broadcasters Canal+ Liga and Gol Television, according to FORMULATV.com. Canal+ Liga was the preferred broadcaster with 1.571 million people tuning in and a 11.6% share. Gol Television had to settle for 339,000 viewers and a 2.6% share. Canal+ Liga "also had a good following" with its post-game show. An average of 803,000 people were tuned in and a 3.8% share (FORMULATV.com, 10/8).
FRANCE: Pay-TV broadcaster Canal+'s broadcast of the Ligue 1 rivalry match between Paris St. Germain and Olympique Marseille brought in 2.7 million viewers, and a 43.5% share of the pay-TV audience. The numbers reflected the best performance across all categories for Canal+ since its Nov. 29, 1998 coverage of the same rivalry game (SPORT24.com, 10/8).
Austrian free-to-air TV channel ServusTV has "lost three-quarters of its audience since the German Hockey League (DEL) started its season in September," according to Manuel Weis of QUOTENMETER.de. The "rather unknown channel," ServusTV, attracted 80,000 viewers to its broadcast of the DEL season opener between Krefeld and Cologne on Sept. 14. On Sunday, ServusTV's "audience numbers were substantially lower." Only "20,000 viewers tuned in to watch the channel's coverage of the Bavarian derby between Ingolstadt and Straubing," which started at 5:45pm CEST. ServusTV's audience number, which translates into a market share of 0.1%, is "almost identical" to audience numbers of pay-TV channel Sky during last year's DEL season (QUOTENMETER.de, 10/8).