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Mediaset and Atresmedia ‘to vie for’ free-to-air rights to 2022 World Cup

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 20: Sergio Ramos, David De Gea and Gerard Pique of Spain look on during the national anthem prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Spain at Kazan Arena on June 20, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Commercial free-to-air broadcast groups Mediaset and Atresmedia are set to go head-to-head in a bid to acquire rights in Spain to the 2022 World Cup from the Mediapro agency.

The pair are preparing bids for the package of free-to-air rights, reports El Economista newspaper, after Mediapro secured the exclusive rights in January.

Upon acquiring the rights, Mediapro announced its plans to create a 24/7 channel in Spain to showcase coverage of the tournament, which will take place in Qatar. However, in order to recoup some of its investment, the Barcelona-based agency and production group is expected to sell on the free-to-air rights but retain the pay-TV rights for its premium channel.

Spanish listed-events law requires all Spanish men’s national team matches from World Cup tournaments be shown on free-to-air television and it was expected that Mediapro would make a package of eight to 10 further matches available.

It is reported that Mediaset and Atresmedia will bid for the free-to-air rights “before the end of the year.”

Mediaset held rights to the last three World Cups and Confederations Cups, as well as the 2012 and 2016 editions of the European Championships. Mediaset also holds the exclusive rights to Euro 2020 in a deal agreed last year.

A number of other players in the Spanish market are claimed to have stepped aside in the tussle for 2022 World Cup rights. Pay-television broadcaster Telefónica and subscription OTT platform DAZN are not thought to be interested given the necessity for Spain’s games to be on a free-to-air platform.

Public-service broadcaster TVE is thought to consider the acquisition of the free-to-air rights too expensive and is not preparing a bid, it is claimed.