Dish Network has filed lawsuit against Univision over the Spanish-language channel’s plan to livestream Mexican professional soccer games, in English, on Facebook Live.
The news site Cablefax wrote that it had seen a heavily redacted version of the complaint, which was filed in New York’s Southern District federal court earlier this month; the crux of the suit is Dish’s contention that Univision is violating an affiliate agreement that includes a prohibition on free livestreams. Back in 2012 at the International Consumer Electronics Show, the two companies announced a multi-platform agreement to launch three new Univision networks — one of which was Univision Deportes, which broadcasts the Liga MX games in Spanish.
According to the report, Dish alleges a Univision violation for “allowing linear services to be distributed for free via the Internet or a wireless cellular provider.” Though the Univision Deportes television broadcast and the company’s Facebook Live stream are in different languages, Dish is said to claim they are too similar, even reportedly quoting an interview with Olek Loewenstein — Univision Deportes’ senior vice president of strategy and operations for sports — gave to Sports Video Group in which he explained that the two version of the soccer match originated out of the same control room albeit with a different audio path and the use of a switcher toggling graphics between languages.
Cablefax quoted part of the complaint: “It has undermined the value of Dish’s licensing and distribution deal with the Univision Entities, by making covered content available for free through a third-party distributor. And it has and will undoubtedly cost Dish profits and the goodwill of its subscribers and potential subscribers, who are less likely to purchase Dish services or the necessary subscriptions to access its Liga MX content, since games can be viewed for free on the Internet or through a wireless cellular provider.”
A spokesman for Univision Communications Inc. provided SportTechie with this statement: “UCI is disappointed in Dish’s decision to file this suit. For more than a decade, UCI has partnered extensively with Dish to make it one of the most popular TV distribution services with Hispanic America. More people are watching our Liga MX games on our existing Spanish-language cable and broadcast TV networks, as evidenced by our year over year increase in Nielsen TV ratings.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to build audiences with new platforms. In fact, UCI was one of the first media companies to support Dish by making its popular Spanish-language broadcast and cable networks available on Dish’s Sling TV service. We have also sought to expand the Liga MX audience by offering a select number of matches via a new English-language service on Facebook.”
Dish did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The sports media industry has seen a proliferation of livestreamed broadcasts over social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as Yahoo and Amazon, which will show the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games this fall. Those deals are generating big cash, too: Twitter streamed last year’s Thursday NFL games for $10 million while Amazon had to reportedly offer for $50 million to secure this year’s package. The continued dissemination of sports content over so many platforms could well entangle broadcast rights deal in future legal challenges, especially in cases such as this one in which the matter of differentiation will be debated.
The New York-based agency and Baral are working exclusively to market the media and sponsorship rights for 7 Liga Ascenso clubs
New York, 31 July 2017 - MP & Silva, a full service global sports media agency, has signed a multi-year partnership agreement with Baral LLC allowing both companies to jointly exploit the media and sponsorship rights of several clubs of Liga Ascenso, the Mexican 2nd division football league. The deal includes important clubs such as Cafeteros de Tapachula, Venados De Mérida, Dorados de Culiacan, Club Atlétic Zacatepec, Potros de UAEM among others.
MP & Silva and Baral will work together to maximize the full potential of Liga Ascenso in the American market, as they believe Mexico’s 2nd division league is currently under commercialized. There is a great dormant opportunity for the League to grow in the U.S., given the size of the US-Mexican demographic.
The scope of the agreement covers all media rights platforms for the U.S. territory. MP & Silva and Baral Group will also collaborate extensively to obtain sponsorship deals to benefit all clubs involved.
The media rights package will include all home matches played by the clubs, starting at the beginning of the new season in July 2017 and running through the closing of the 2021 season.
Speaking about the new partnership Frank Uddo, MP & Silva’s President, North America, said:
“We are very excited to work with Baral and the clubs of Liga Ascenso. MP & Silva is a strong believer in the continued growth of Mexican football in America, given Liga MX is the most watched football league in the United States. We believe there is huge demand for more Mexican football and great potential to increase the profile of the league and its clubs.”
Ricardo Baraldi, from Baral Group, says the partnership is a “very good step forward in the development of the league that will help increase viewership and value to Ascenso MX in the United States through the combined efforts of Baral and MP & Silva.” Baraldi added: “We will be able to reach more US regions where Mexican fans are located”.
Victor Arana, President of the Atetico Zacatepec Club commented: "For several years now our organization has been working with Baral Group and we are delighted with the effort it is making with MP & Silva to increase our audience in the United States. We have seen the enthusiasm it causes among Mexicans, scattered in different regions of the United States, to follow the matches of their clubs." Arana concluded: " Zacatepec is one of the traditional clubs and we want to give our followers in the USA the possibility to see us play and most importantly ... win ...!!"