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How are audiovisual rights managed in football clubs?

5 Aug 2022   ·   

Football clubs have different ways of generating incomes to be able to execute the necessary actions to maintain the highest competitive level.  Expenses in big clubs are high (signings, athlete and non-athlete salaries, stadium management, etc), and they must maximise incomes to get benefits.

Brand value is the most profitable asset big clubs have. When fans go to the stadium, the club has control over all the possible commercial actions in order to make an impact on them and create a whole experience around the event. However, whatever is done on game day at the venue can only be seen and experienced by a small percentage of fans.

99% of successful club’s followers can’t go to the venue to see the match because they live in different countries. Besides, with millions of fans around the world, no club would have the physical area to fit all of them. 

So, the perfect fit to maximise brand value are TV broadcasts, which are managed through audiovisual rights. It’s one of the essential elements to generate income and to reach the complete potential audience of a club. It’s what’s known as ‘virtual seats’.

Besides, sports sponsors are especially interested in the number of spectators that a football team can create, and in the total number of its follower base. The more people watching the games of a team, the more attractive it is for a potential sponsor.

Who manages audiovisual rights?

To take part in competitions, clubs partner up with the entities that organise them. In Spain, for example, clubs join LaLiga and transfer their image broadcasting rights to them in order to exploit them at the best price. 

The leagues fit the role of right holders for the teams in the competition, apart from being the governing body. This is a completely different organisation model from the one in the USA, for example. In that country, the leagues are the owners of the clubs, which allows them to directly negotiate everything related to broadcasting rights as well as calendars and schedules. 

Quality standards and match schedule

Before commercialising the rights, LaLiga sets the quality standards for the broadcasting: grass, lighting, advertising placement, etc. These decisions are always made trying not to disturb the experience of the audience in the stadium.

Once LaLiga has decided the conditions in which the competition has to be developed in order to maximise the quality and monetisation of the broadcasting, the next step is to decide on the schedule to organise the games in the most commercially beneficial way possible.  

Currently, LaLiga distributes the matches in an asymmetric schedule. This means that the matches in the second round don’t need to match the order of the first round. Having more control on the dates allows LaLiga to avoid other important matches that might take place at the same time.

When organising schedules, external and international factors are taken into account too. This can be other sports competitions, big events that can compete for the same audience, or important matches in other football leagues. LaLiga considers the local as well as the international market. At present, the most important foreign markets are Asia and America.  

For example, El Clásico is a global range match, followed by spectators all over the world.  To set the date and time of the match, local competitions, TV premieres or festivities in certain countries are considered so that they do not overlap.

Audiovisual broadcasting transfer

Once quality standards and schedule are set, and research about what markets are the most profitable, LaLiga’s next step is to trade audiovisual rights. Using a tender regulated by the validated commission and a control organism, the rights are allocated to the TV or TV groups with the best proposal. 

Sometimes, these rights are sold in matches packages. For example, 5 First Division matches with one match of FC Barcelona, or 5 First Division matches and 4 Second Division ones. The aim is to maximise the economic return of the team’s rights.

Once the rights are allocated, LaLiga and the TV broadcasters that make the deal are in contact during the whole competition to ensure content production is done in the proper way, and to optimise spectators’ experience around the world.

If you want to know more about audiovisual rights and other monetisation strategies in football clubs, Barça Universitas courses will give you the knowledge you need from experts in the industry.

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