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Spanish digital rivals net big pay soccer deal.

MADRID Spanish digital TV rivals Sogecable and Telefonica have inked a huge pay TV soccer armistice in Spain.

The unexpected accord, signed June 16, allows the digital platforms controlled by film and TV conglom Sogecable and telco Telefonica--Canal-Satelite Digital (CSD) and Via Digital, respectively--to share pay TV and pay-per-view soccer rights to Europe's Champions League games beginning this week and through the end of the 2008-09 season.

CSD and Via will also jointly broadcast upcoming pay TV transmissions of league games, while Sogecable and Telefonica will create a joint venture to exploit PPV Internet soccer transmissions.

Although the soccer accord took even top execs at both congloms by surprise, the accord reflects a logical attempt by the digital rivals to avoid a punitive bidding war for the product that is driving their take-up, but at an enormous price.

As Via execs candidly recognized last year, CSD's exclusive on pay-per-view soccer in Spain, which ran until 2003, was damaging Via take-up. Just last week Via agreed to pay $409 million for exclusive TV rights, both free and pay, to the European and Spanish league games of just one club, Barcelona F.C., over the years 2003 to 2008.

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Author:HOPEWELL, JOHN
Publication:Variety
Date:Jun 21, 1999
Words:197
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