Spain's Telefonica Snags Barcelona Soccer TV Rights

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz

The one-year deal, estimated to be worth $159 million, ends a long-standing relationship with Mediapro and boosts Telefonica's content on pay TV service Movistar TV.

In a deal that gives Telefonica a significant boost in its quest to become Spain’s leading television group, the Spanish telecom has bought the TV rights for FC Barcelona matches for one year, ending an eight-year contract between the world-class team and rival media group Mediapro.

While no official price tag was disclosed, Spanish reports indicate Telefonica paid $159 million (€140 million) for the one-year contract, which also sees the content branch of Telefonica take over the operation of Barcelona’s in-house TV channel.

Read more Spain 2014 in Review: Box Office Booms, Tourists Flock to 'Game of Thrones'

The deal is only for one year, as it comes at a time when the Spanish government has said it will adopt new legislation requiring teams in La Liga, the Spanish top league, to negotiate their TV rights collectively in 2016-2017.

The teams have said they will comply, particularly after the English Premier League signed a collective deal with Sky and BT Sports for 2016-2019 for $7.8 billion.

Read more Spanish Films Post Record Sales at Box Office for 2014

The Spanish league boasts two of the world’s wealthiest teams: Real Madrid, which sits in the No. 1 spot of the league right now, and FC Barcelona, which is ranked fourth. Together they account for nearly half of La Liga’s $742 million (€650 million) TV rights revenue.

The Telefonica deal is a significant blow to Mediapro, which still holds its contract with Real Madrid. Telefonica has focused on beefing up its pay TV service Movistar TV, signing content deals with HBO and CBS this month. Those deals will offer content for the platform's VOD service on Movistar Series. Telefonica is looking to double its Movistar subscribers to 4 million this year.