For those of us living in the UK and Ireland live action from Spain's La Liga is something we have grown accustomed to over the past two decades. Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, etc. were regularly seen on Sunday nights as top Spanish clubs battled for precious league points. Alas, for those of us with Sky Sports' subscriptions, this is now a thing of the past. And like much of the movement in sports broadcasting, La Liga along with the Chinese Super League, DFB-Pokal (German Cup), Serie A, Eredivisie and Sweden's Allsvenskan have all been bought by Eleven Sports.
Established in 2015, Wikipedia states that "Eleven Sports is a multinational group of sports television channels. Based in the United Kingdom, it is owned by Andrea Radrizzani—executive of the sports marketing agency MP & Silva—and The Channel Company. Eleven Sports' business model centres around the acquisition of major international sports rights in smaller countries. The company operates linear television and/or digital services in Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States". From our perspective on these islands, this means watching sports content online via smartphone, tablet, smart TV, etc.
Recently, we had a paper published in the Journal of Sports Economics which examines the 2006 European Commission ruling, that ended the BSkyB Broadcasting monopoly on the English Premier League, and the impact on consumer prices. While our focus is solely on the Premier League, the loss of La Liga from the Sky Sports offering is important, and further evidence that this market is moving to a place that might not be advantageous to consumers despite the appearance of more competition. Rewind to 2012. Sky Sports have rights to broadcast La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and 115 Premier League games. The cost per month for a UK customer was around £23 or €35 for Irish customers.
What has competition in the upstream market done since then to prices paid by customers downstream?
As of today, the broadcasting rights for La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and the bulk of Premier League lies with three different providers; Eleven Sport, BT Sport and Sky Sports. The 2012 customer, if they wish to continue watching La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and (now 128) Premier League games, have to fork out for three subscriptions fees; Sky Sports £24/€40 per month, BT Sport £21/€25 and Eleven Sports £5/€7 (all approximate fees). This results in a total cost per month of £50/€72, an increase of £27/€37. That more than a 100% increase!
The 2012 monopoly was much better than the 2018 "competitive" market, which is in effect, three different monopolies operated side-by-side.