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GSRM closes in on first Brasileiro rights deal, turns to Fanatiz before OTT launch

Fluminense face Palmeiras during Brasileirao Serie A at Maracana Stadium on August 12, 2020 (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Global Sports Rights Management, the agency that recently acquired the international rights to the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and Série B, is in the process of signing its first broadcast rights deal, SportBusiness understands.

Balkan pay-television broadcaster Arena Sport is to show matches this weekend ahead of the expected sign-off of a contract with GSRM. The broadcasting of the matches has been authorised by GSRM and the contract is expected to be finalised within a few weeks.

GSRM, an agency set up by Latin American sports rights executives, was only confirmed a week ago as the international rights-holder for the next four seasons, on the same day the delayed Brazilian season kicked off.

While talks have been held by GSRM in recent months – having won the backing of clubs back in April – the agency held off on finalising deals before the sales contract was signed.

Chief executive Hernán Donnari told SportBusiness: “We are very close to inking a deal in Europe and we have several other [ongoing] conversations in the world. None of them are already signed because we were very cautious of not pitching a sale that we had not signed.”

Arena Sport is to show the Grêmio-Coritiba and Atlético Mineiro-Ceará matches this weekend. The Telekom Srbija-owned broadcaster has made aggressive moves in the Balkan sports rights market in the last 18 months, winning the Uefa club competition rights (from 2021-22 to 2023-24) and NBA rights.

Donnari, previously a leading figure at Fox Sports Latin America, is joined on the GSRM board by Matias and Raul Rivera, co-founders of the Fanatiz streaming platform, David Belmar, president of 1190 Sport, a Latin American sports rights management company, and Juan Arciniegas of Miami-based private investment firm 777 Partners.

The agency turned to Fanatiz to stream all 20 matches from Série A and Série B on the opening weekend. Live coverage of the Série B opener between Cuiabá and Grêmio Esportivo Brasil was streamed worldwide on Friday evening as the ink was still drying on the last club’s signature on the international sales contract.

Fanatiz’s subscribers in over 80 countries were able to watch the opening matches using a free pass, while new customers have been offered a seven-day free trial before a subscription priced at $9.99 (€8.44) per month kicks in.

GSRM has been awarded the exclusive international free-to-air, pay-television, pay-per-view and streaming rights and will also create an international subscription over-the-top streaming platform to showcase matches from the two leagues.

Donnari said that the Brazilian league’s dedicated international OTT platform will be launched before the end of the (rescheduled) 2020 season, which now runs from August to February 2021.

He said: “We will certainly have something in a couple of months. We need to define many aspects around the content, the product and the brand as part of our project that we will fulfil.”

Pricing is expected to differ from region to region, while there will be geo-blocking in place if rights to specific matches have been acquired by a broadcaster.

Donnari continued: “We have the ability to carve out live or video-on-demand games for every territory. If a specific broadcaster signs a syndication agreement that is exclusive on a certain platform, then we’d have to carve those games out of the platform.

“Any decision would be taken with the opinion of the committee that is heading this project. It all depends on what we are aiming for. One of the things we believe is very important for Brazilian football is to provide reach and exposure.

“It’s very hard to get 20 games [shown per week] from a specific broadcaster in Asia [for example]. But you can always have one or two top games [broadcast] and the rest distributed on a specific platform devoted to Brazilian football. That is the approach we think is the most powerful message we can give to any rights-holder.”

GSRM finalised its acquisition of the rights at the same time as the clubs signed off on a four-season deal with Stats Perform, the sports data and technology company, for the international betting streaming and data rights.

Both proposals included a minimum guarantee payment, while the GSRM offer also included a revenue-share model based on sales performance. GSRM will share revenues with the clubs in the OTT project. In the new tender guidelines issued in March, it was made clear that the winning rights bidder would assume the OTT platform development costs.

On its monetisation plans for the Brazilian league project, which will also include sponsorship sales, Donnari remarked: “GSRM has a holistic approach regarding the revenues. We don’t make revenues from only subscriptions, or [just] out of sponsorship, we believe that to make good business for the federation and the rights-holder, you have to approach the business from every single perspective you can.”

The top two Brazilian leagues have suffered from a lack of international exposure in recent seasons after failed attempts to sell the rights to an agency.

Buoyed by the number of South and Central American players in the Brazilian league, the export of Brazilian players around the world, the 2014 World Cup stadium infrastructure legacy and high-end production quality, Donnari insists that the international rights distribution represents a “huge opportunity”.

GSRM has targeted the rest of South America as its priority for international rights sales, followed by the rest of the Americas, including the burgeoning US football market. A deal in Portugal is also being prioritised, along with the rest of Europe and also Asia.

Agencies in Japan have contacted GSRM with their interest stirred by former international star Keisuke Honda now turning out for Botafogo.