Monday 16 February 2015 brought a small earthquake in the Spanish media rights market. FC Barcelona (“Barça”) decided after eight seasons of close cooperation with Spanish leading media corporation MediaPro to assign its media rights for season 2015-2016 to Spanish-based global media and telecommunications giant Telefonica. According to the media, the price paid by Telefonica would be Euro 140 million. Following the same reports, the deal would also include a sponsorhip agreement and the assignment of the exploitation of Barça TV channel.

This move is very relevant for a number of reasons. To start with, the two leading football clubs in Spain (Barça and Real Madrid) shall not have the same media partner for the first time in many years (Real Madrid remains a MediaPro ally). Second, it reflects that the upcoming elections are not delaying the dynamism in the management of Barça (which recently appointed a new panel of sports managers for the football division, including senior figure Ariedo Braida, a legend of AC MIlan management team). Third, it marks a milestone in a context of some tension between big clubs (Real Madrid and Barça sharing a slice that is little less than 40% of the broadcasting rights cake) and the other Spanish football clubs that share the rest of the cake. Rumours of lock-outs and other actions have been heard over the last months, but no one wants to show a high profile that could cause the plans of the Spanish Government to regulate the centralized sale of media rights of professional Spanish football to derrail. An exciting scenario is ahead and not just for the thrilling fight at the top of La Liga between Real Madrid, Barça and Atletico…