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SBT completes three-year Copa Libertadores rights acquisition

AVELLANEDA, ARGENTINA - MARCH 12: Racing Club players pose for the team photo. (Photo by Rodrigo Valle/Getty Images)

Brazilian commercial free-to-air broadcaster SBT has acquired the free-to-air rights to South American clubs tournament the Copa Libertadores that were recently given up by media group Globo.

The rights will cover the 2020-22 cycle and will begin from the tournament’s third round on Wednesday, September 16. It is expected that SBT will broadcast two matches per matchweek on its linear television channels.

The deal was agreed with FC Diez Media, a joint venture between the IMG agency and media company DAZN Group, and the property’s rights-holder Conmebol. It was created to handle global commercial rights related to the Copa Libertadores and second-tier Copa Sudamericana, for which it guarantees Conmebol a fee of $350m (€295m) per year.

News of the impending deal with SBT broke earlier this week.

Globo, the dominant media presence in Brazil, had cancelled its Copa Libertadores contract due to the fall in value of the Brazilian real against the US dollar.

Globo’s free-to-air rights to the competition were worth about $65m (€54.8m) per season in a deal that was set to cover a four-season cycle between 2019 and 2022. At the time the deal was agreed in 2018, the dollar-to-real conversion rate was 1 to 3.88. At the time of writing, this now stands at 1 to 5.32, meaning Globo’s expenditure on the property had risen by more than a third since the acquisition was agreed.

Conmebol was understood to have offered the rights out to four free-to-air broadcasters in Brazil in search of a quick resolution.

With Conmebol and FC Diez Media having now found a buyer to its premier club competition property, the rights-holder will now turn its attention to unsold Copa Sudamericana rights.

The Copa Sudamericana rights were previously held by the Brazilian service of DAZN for the same four-season cycle as Globo’s Copa Libertadores rights. However, similarly to Globo, DAZN also cancelled its contract citing financial difficulties brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conmebol is now thought to be in negotiations, reports UOL, with Brazilian commercial broadcaster RedeTV for rights to the competition, which resumes in October.

The negotiations are reportedly for the free-to-air rights to the competition with Conmebol also keen to find a pay-television broadcaster in the region.