Benfica makes “historic” switch in television strategy

02 Jul 2013

Portuguese giant Benfica’s official club television network switched to a premium pay channel model on Monday in what president Luis Filipe Vieira described as a “historic” move as it prepares to exploit its own Primeira Liga rights, along with those of the English Premier League.

Benfica re-elected Vieira as its president in October after he promised to bring the Lisbon club’s broadcast rights in-house. Benfica is keeping its media rights for exploitation on Benfica TV, after deciding against selling the rights to a broadcaster or agency from the start of the forthcoming season in a bid to boost revenues. The change in strategy means Portuguese fans will now have to pay Eur10 per month to watch Benfica’s games at the Estadio da Luz, in addition to a fee for a basic cable television package.

A club spokesman told Reuters that Benfica is the first major European club to screen league games on its own pay-TV channel. Vieira has hailed the initiative as “historic” and said the deal meant that “Benfica became the first club in the world to fully exploit its TV rights”. Benfica fans will be able to access the channel through Portugal’s two biggest cable operators – Portugal Telecom and Zon – while Angolan cable operator Zap will also offer it.

TV deals are negotiated on a club-by-club basis in Portugal and Benfica TV will also have the added attraction of top flight English football. The Premier League in February announced that Benfica TV had been awarded the exclusive rights for all 380 matches per campaign from seasons 2013-14 to 2015-16. The Premier League’s rights in Portugal were previously held by the Olivedesportos agency.