UEFA awards TV rights to outside agency

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GENEVA (AP) -UEFA has awarded the TV rights and sponsorship duties for the 2016 European Championship to an outside agency, reversing its policy from Euro 2012 to handle those deals in-house.

The governing body said it struck a deal with CAA Eleven, a newly formed branch of the United States-based Creative Artists Agency, to handle its broadcasting, sponsorship and licensing rights for all of its national team competitions through the qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup.

The deal means CAA Eleven will be responsible for securing TV deals with broadcasters around the world, as well as signing up sponsors. UEFA did not disclose the value of the deal, but it is expected to bring in more than $1 billion in guaranteed income for the governing body.

UEFA announced on Monday that it had linked up with CAA Eleven, but did not disclose the full scale of the deal until Tuesday. It had sought bidders in April for a package that included the qualifiers to Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup and surprised some analyst by including the 24-team tournament in France in the package.

"I think it's a very strategic move from our side," UEFA marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's a different way to run our activities, to focus more on the strategic marketing rather than the sales function."

Industry watchers predicted difficulties for UEFA in finding an acceptable price for a qualifiers-only deal due to Europe's economic downturn and reduced interest in a less competitive program to decide 23 qualifying nations joining host France.

The rights for Euro 2016, hosted in the lucrative media market of France, are the prime asset in the enlarged deal - one which should help UEFA cover promised payments to its 53 national members to compensate for centralizing the rights.

For Euro 2012, the in-house UEFA Events operation raised more than ?1.3 billion (then $1.6 billion) in commercial revenue from the 16-team tournament played in the emerging markets of Poland and Ukraine.

The next Euro tournament is expected to generate much increased revenue with 51 matches instead of 31, even though many commentators expect the standard of football to decline.

UEFA chose CAA Eleven which was created in June as a division of entertainment industry giant CAA.

"We are honored to have been selected by UEFA to represent the prestigious rights for UEFA's national team competitions," David O'Connor, CAA managing partner said in a statement.

UEFA said that the new agency would be based in its home town of Nyon, Switzerland, and be led by sports rights executives Olivier Guiguet and Stephane Schindler. They left Sportsfive, a rival bidder for the UEFA rights, last year.

"I have tremendous respect for our partners at CAA, and am extremely proud that UEFA has entrusted us with the responsibility of this revolutionary opportunity in the global football rights landscape," Guiguet said in a statement.

UEFA has already sold TV rights to two of its biggest markets for Euro 2016 before joining with CAA Eleven.

Qatar-owned Al Jazeera spinoff beIN Sports has rights to show all matches in France, though state broadcaster TF1 and the M6 channel were also awarded some rights to the host nation's games plus other prime matches.

In Germany, broadcasters ARD and ZDF extended their longstanding partnerships with UEFA.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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