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Sports Business Journal issues
Volume 22 No. 44
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MP & Silva to sell NFL media rights in Europe

The NFL hired MP & Silva to sell its media rights in most of Europe in a five-year deal that’s expected to be announced this week.

The deal represents one of the biggest wins for the largely European-based MP & Silva, which has worked with many U.S. leagues and has been looking to expand its business in the States.

MP & Silva replaces IMG, which had sold the NFL’s European rights for at least the past six years. The NFL still works with IMG in other territories, like Asia.

Deal terms have MP & Silva handling the negotiations in 42 European territories, including France, Italy and Spain. The deal does not include some top European markets — the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia — where the league sells directly to local television companies.

It’s tough to say how much the combined European rights are worth. The NFL makes between $500,000 and $700,000 from Spain, a figure that’s expected to grow, and between $2 million and $3 million from the U.K.

The deal starts with this season’s games and runs through the 2020 Super Bowl. The rights include the U.S. network production of all preseason, regular-season and postseason games, plus the NFL draft and “NFL GameDay.”

MP & Silva will control all TV ad digital rights, and plans to sell to a mix of over-the-air broadcasters and cable channels, said Carlo Pozzali, the agency’s founding partner.

“We will try to have the NFL on a broadcaster, then that same broadcaster is going to have his own app and some kind of digital exploitation,” Pozzali said. “We want to have a huge exploitation on digital in Europe.”

MP & Silva already has worked with several U.S. sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, MLS and the NBA. Pozzali said his company had been talking with the NFL for a couple of years and expects a deal with the biggest U.S. sports league will help it expand its U.S. business.

“This deal is going to make us more popular within the U.S.,” he said. “That’s why I wanted badly to have this deal done.”

NFL executives say they were impressed by MP & Silva’s relationships in Italy, France and Spain, in particular, such as with Roland Garros and Serie A.

“Europe falls in a really nice window,” said Michael Markovich, the NFL’s director of international media and business development. “Our 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. games end up being basically in prime time. We see pockets where we can have more focus and really generate some fans.”