Radriz­zani: Me­dia rights mar­ket leader MP & Silva on course for up to $580m in rev­enue

Sportcal - - THE SPORTS MARKET INTERVIEW - By Martin Ross

Fol­low­ing on from sig­nif­i­cant growth in re­cent years and a di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion away from solely trad­ing me­dia rights to Ital­ian soc­cer, the MP & Silva agency has lofty rev­enue pro­jec­tions for the year ahead, as group chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drea Radriz­zani ex­plains, as it con­tin­ues to ri­val sports mar­ket­ing’s ‘big three’ of IMG, Sport­five and In­front.

MP & Silva’s es­ti­mated an­nual group rev­enues of $350 mil­lion in the 2012-13 pe­riod marked another year of growth in turnover for the agency, as it con­tin­ues to in­vest in me­dia rights across var­i­ous sports around the world and, in par­tic­u­lar, build on its op­er­a­tions in Asia.

Rev­enues are set for a marked in­crease in the next 12-month pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to Radriz­zani, who said that the agency can now claim to be the mar­ket leader in terms of me­dia rights rev­enue. He added: ‘‘The to­tal MP & Silva group rev­enues on the cur­rent fis­cal year 2013-14 should be in be­tween $550 mil­lion to $580 mil­lion. In terms of an­nual me­dia rights turnover, we con­sider MP & Silva is the agency with the high­est rev­enues from TV sports rights busi­ness.

‘‘IMG has big­ger vol­ume of busi­ness as a cor­po­rate, but part of the rev­enues come from spon­sor­ship, pro­duc­tion, event and ath­lete man­age­ment. Sport­five and In­front might have big­ger rev­enues than MP & Silva in the years of big events they man­age, such as the World Cup or Olympic Games.’’

Asked about MP & Silva’s profit mar­gin for 2012-13, Radriz­zani was also up­beat, say­ing: ‘‘The group is healthy and our accountants are still clos­ing the bal­ance sheets for the 2012-13 fis­cal year, but I think we can ex­pect a profit in the re­gion of 10 to 15 per cent. From now, the com­pany will be more fo­cused on in­vest­ing in rights that can guar­an­tee a min­i­mum level of mar­gin and [be­ing] more se­lec­tive in the ac­qui­si­tion.’’

Radriz­zani said that Asia cur­rently rep­re­sents 30 per cent of the group’s rev­enues and plans fur­ther growth in the re­gion. Work­ing with Al Jazeera, the am­bi­tious Qatar-based broad­caster, the agency re­cently launched ‘beIN Sport’ chan­nels in In­done­sia, with chan­nels also to be rolled out in the Philip­pines, Tai­wan, Hong Kong and Thai­land, and has also em­barked on a pro­ject with the Olympic Coun­cil of Asia to man­age its new in-house broad­cast pro­duc­tion arm.

Dis­cussing MP & Silva’s plans for fur­ther growth in Asia, he noted: ‘‘The com­pany aims to main­tain the lead­er­ship as the main in­ter­na­tional foot­ball rights dis­trib­u­tors and start to en­ter in lo­cal foot­ball op­por­tu­ni­ties. We are keen to sup­port lo­cal leagues and fed­er­a­tions to max­imise their com­mer­cial val­ues, es­pe­cially in me­dia rights as­sets. We have also started to ex­pand our ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­duc­tion and spon­sor­ship with in­ter­est­ing and im­por­tant projects like the Asian Games in co-op­er­a­tion with the Olympic Coun­cil of Asia as well as the beIN Sport chan­nels in In­done­sia, Hong Kong, Thai­land, the Philip­pines and Tai­wan.’’

MP & Silva ac­quired Premier League rights in the Mid­dle East and North Africa for the new con­tract cy­cle from 2013-14 to 201516, and, de­spite pro­tracted ne­go­ti­a­tions in the re­gion and pub­lic re­marks from some broad­cast­ers that the rights were over­val­ued, a wide-rang­ing deal was struck in July with Al Jazeera, which took over cov­er­age from ri­val Abu Dhabi Me­dia.

Radriz­zani said that, in the MENA re­gion, MP & Silva has not only “con­sol­i­dated” a long-term part­ner­ship with Al Jazeera, which also bought other soc­cer rights from the agency, but that in the last cou­ple of years the agency’s lo­cal of­fice in Dubai has ‘‘opened relationships and in­creased the sales with many other lo­cal tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ers both at re­gional and do­mes­tic level.’’ He added: ‘‘We are work­ing closely with lo­cal fed­er­a­tions and leagues and we have in­creased our port­fo­lio of rights with lo­cal sports.’’

In Europe, the trad­ing of me­dia rights to top soc­cer leagues nat­u­rally re­mains im­por­tant, but the agency also has sig­nif­i­cant con­tracts in other sports, such as an agree­ment to sell me­dia rights in Europe to ten­nis’ French Open and a deal to mar­ket in­ter­na­tional me­dia rights to the Euro­pean Handball Fed­er­a­tion’s top con­ti­nen­tal clubs tour­na­ments.

Radriz­zani com­mented: ‘‘Ob­vi­ously foot­ball is the lead­ing sport in the ‘old con­ti­nent’ and we aim to main­tain our cur­rent foot­ball rights and be ready for new op­por­tu­ni­ties. At the same time we have a long-term co-op­er­a­tion with the FFT [French Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion] for Roland Gar­ros, which is a key prop­erty for all broad­cast­ers, es­pe­cially com­ing when the foot­ball sea­son is off. We have also pri­ori­tised handball, which has a good au­di­ence in the re­gion and we will put our en­ergy to de­velop the value of me­dia rights work­ing closely with the EHF.’’

The agency has sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased its turnover from Premier League rights af­ter ac­quir­ing rights in a wider se­lec­tion of ter­ri­to­ries in the in­vi­ta­tion to ten­der process for 2013-14 on­wards. Al­though it was re­placed by ri­val IMG Me­dia as the Premier League rights seller in Ja­pan and Viet­nam, MP & Silva picked up dis­tri­bu­tion rights in the Mid­dle East and North Africa, Nether­lands, Ukraine, Philip­pines, Tai­wan, In­done­sia, New Zea­land and the Pa­cific Is­lands.

Asked about the suc­cess of the sales process, Radriz­zani said: ‘‘The Premier League rights for the 2013-14 to 2015-16 cy­cle have been an im­por­tant achieve­ment and chal­lenge for the com­pany and we are sat­is­fied with the re­sult we have reached un­til now.

“For the first time, we are also ex­ploit­ing the rights as a broad­caster with beIN Sport [in the south­east Asian ter­ri­to­ries] and we can know the pre­cise re­turn on the in­vest­ment only at the end of the cy­cle.’’

Speaking to Sport­cal ear­lier this year, Carlo Poz­zali, MP & Silva’s chief ex­ec­u­tive for the Amer­i­cas, pre­dicted $60 mil­lion in rev­enues from that re­gion in 2012-13, and also raised the pos­si­bil­ity of open­ing an of­fice in Brazil or Ar­gentina.

Radriz­zani ad­mit­ted that MP & Silva is look­ing at new op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop in the Amer­i­cas, but added that ‘‘usu­ally we open our op­er­a­tions when we have ac­quired im­por­tant rights and projects to set up in the ter­ri­tory. I hope these will hap­pen soon.’’ This is an abridged ver­sion of an ar­ti­cle that ap­peared on the Sport­cal web­site in Septem­ber and is avail­able for sub­scribers to read at http://www.sport­cal.com/news/ news_ar­ti­cle.aspx?ar­ti­cleid=95188

An­drea Radriz­zani

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