Eleven Sports furloughs six staff in Portugal

PORTO, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 13: Ze Luis of FC Porto celebrates after scoring a goal. (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)

The Portuguese arm of pay-television sports broadcaster Eleven Sports has furloughed six of its staff for a period of 30 days as its bids to insulate itself from long-term Covid-19 damage.

Eleven’s remaining 25 full-time employees in Portugal continue to work remotely while the business faces the issue of depleted sporting content for its platforms and the ensuing subscriber churn.

SportBusiness understands that there have not been any redundancies at this time in the business’s Portuguese arm.

Speaking to Portuguese newspaper Eco, Jorge Pavão de Sousa, general director of Eleven Sports Portugal, said: “We are evaluating all scenarios. We have already reduced the team in two areas and we are considering other possibilities if the free [access] period has to be extended beyond May and if the leagues do not return.

“In an extreme scenario, the leagues will not return, and until September there will be no football on television and the championships will end abruptly, obviously additional measures will have to be taken and we will evaluate all the resources that exist.”

In a bid to attract customers beyond the crisis, Eleven Sports has made its Portuguese content free until the end of May. The broadcasters says this has resulted in a 25-per-cent increase in users for April 2020 compared to the same month the previous year.

Among Eleven’s portfolio of rights in Portugal are the Uefa Champions League, the Spanish LaLiga, the German Bundesliga and motor racing’s Formula 1. All of these properties are currently postponed owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic (with some Formula 1 races having been cancelled altogether).

Asked about any measures taken to reduce staffing costs across its international operations, Eleven Sports told SportBusiness: “With less live sport on offer at the moment, our core staffing requirements are temporarily reduced and as a result we have placed a small number of individuals across the group on furlough. We remain positive about the future and look forward to ramping operations back up when more live sport returns in the coming weeks and months.”

Along with Portugal, Eleven Sports operates channels and streaming platforms in Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Japan, Myanmar, Taiwan and USA.

Eleven had launched an annual pass for F1 fans in Portugal shortly before the season was postponed, priced at €49.99 ($53.96) for the year.