Striking deal for Mediapro: $1.4 bil for 7 years of Real

Worldwide record for sports rights

Spanish film and TV company Mediapro became the dominant sports-rights owner in Spain on Monday when it agreed to pay soccer team Real Madrid a record €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) for seven seasons of broadcast rights.

The company — which owns upstart TV channel La Sexta — announced the deal, which sets a new high in worldwide sports-rights bidding, ending rival film and TV giant Sogecable's control over Spain's professional soccer league.

"This deal marks a new high for the club as it sets a record for broadcast rights for a single team worldwide," a spokesman for the Spanish club said.

The figure — which was re-vealed by Real Madrid — tops the reported €600 million ($769 million) Mediapro paid rival soccer team FC Barcelona for five years, about €120 million ($154 million) per season.

Mediapro said that it was "satisfied by the signing of the agreement, which responds to a strategy and is in keeping with other (deals) of the same type carried out before and reinforces its position in sports rights."

No one at Mediapro was available for comment Monday.

The deal, which runs through the 2012-13 season, opens a new era in sports rights in Spain, where Sogecable has dominated and continues to own 75% of sports-rights broker Audiovisual Sport, while Mediapro holds 25% thanks to its snagging of the broadcast rights of a dozen professional soccer teams in Spain within the past few months.

The Real Madrid deal creates a new dynamic that sees Mediapro holding all of the juicy deals while still a partner with Sogecable, which owns the rights until 2008, in Audiovisual Sport. In July, the two companies agreed to share the Spanish league and cup matches.

La Sexta airs the one weekly free-to-air soccer match on Saturday night, with Sogecable's pay channel Canal Plus showing the Sunday pay match, and its satellite platform Digital Plus offering the rest of the matches on pay-per-view.

Mediapro relies on Sogecable and cable operators to be picked up in remote areas of Spain where the new channel — launched in June — still has penetration problems.

No one was available at Sogecable for comment.