Financial turbulence leaves Eleven on brink of UK closure

According to a report by Telegraph Sport, Eleven Sports may be on the cusp of closing its UK arm as speculation grows over the financial losses of the firm in its first four months of operating.

The OTT platform aimed at disrupting the UK’s sports broadcasting sector was forced to reassess its stance in the UK, after its deal with the UFC was scuppered when the leading mixed martial arts organisation triggered an exit clause on the deal, because Eleven failed to secure a pay TV distribution partnership.

It is believed that with the deal breaking down, the UFC has entered back into negotiations with its current broadcaster BT Sports.

An Eleven Sports spokesperson emphasised: “Without carriage agreements with the existing platforms, alongside the challenges posed by rampant piracy, the current market dynamics in the UK and Ireland are very hostile for new entrants. We are in discussion with our rights partners, La Liga and IMG, about how we can restructure our existing agreements in order to continue our current OTT service.”

Since the start of the season, Eleven has been broadcasting Serie A, La Liga and Eredivisie to the UK market, however after a tough start to its UK existence it has been reported that Eleven Sports is close to handing the rights back to IMG, so they could be resold for UK distribution.

The broadcaster is headed by Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani, however whether the broadcaster’s financial predicament will have any impact on the Championship clubs remains to be seen. However it’s widely reported that the Leeds owner is at the centre of a campaign from a host of Championship clubs, that have been left concerned by the recent deal between Sky Sports and the EFL. 

Eleven also recently stood down in its battle with the FA over its right to broadcast live football between, 2.45pm and 5.15pm.

Previously, the firm had publicly opposed the FA’s rule that implements a blackout on broadcasting football on a Saturday afternoon.

Issuing a statement at the time, the firm said: “Out of respect for the wishes of our partners, we will for the time being no longer show matches during the Saturday afternoon blackout period.

“Fans in the UK should have the freedom and the choice to watch these games legally through the official rights holder, as they do all over the world. Regrettably, intense pressure from stakeholders within the football establishment means that football fans across the country do not have this option.”

“We maintain our strong view that the rule is unfit for the modern, digital era – particularly for overseas games which we hold the rights to. With the best interests of football fans at heart, we are currently considering all legal and regulatory options, including the referral of the case to the appropriate authorities.”