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Telefónica remains interested in F1 rights renewal in Spain

Carlos Sainz of Spain and McLaren F1 looks on in the Paddock during previews (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Spanish telco Telefónica remains interested in renewing its role as the incumbent broadcast rights-holder of Formula 1 motor racing in its domestic market.

The telco has held the rights since 2014, though its current deal expires at the end of the 2020 season.

There is likely to be increased viewer interest in Spain next season with Spanish driver Carlos Sainz to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.

A Telefónica source confirmed the broadcaster’s desire to renew its rights to SportBusiness, saying: “We are working on it, we have been the broadcast rights-holder of F1 in Spain [for] many years and we want to be next season too.”

Reports first emerged in Spanish newspaper El Periódico de Cataluña of the telco’s interest in renewing the rights, which are showcased on its Movistar pay-television platform.

It has been reported that Telefónica would face competition from DAZN, but the subscription OTT player has dismissed the suggestion as “speculation”. DAZN has been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, furloughing staff and becoming one of the first broadcasters to inform sports rights-holders that it would not be making its next rights fee payments for content that had yet to be delivered.

Telefónica last renewed its rights in 2018 in a three-year deal which enhanced its levels of exclusivity. A provision was removed which has previously required it to sublicense rights to the Spanish Grand Prix out to a free-to-air broadcaster.

The deal was brokered by Formula One Management, the sport’s commercial arm.

FOM has gradually been ramping up the launch of its premium direct-to-consumer OTT service F1 TV Pro. Reports this week suggested that FOM is seeking this arrangement in its broadcast rights discussions in Brazil.

Formula 1 fans in Spain currently have access to the scaled-down F1 TV Access package, which is priced at €2.99 ($3.27) per month or €26.99 per year. It offers exclusive documentaries, archive footage, live timing features and live leaderboard data.