Italian ‘over the top’ broadcaster Eleven Sports who own the rights for La Liga coverage is reportedly on the brink of closure in the UK.
The service, which agreed a three-year rights deal with the Spanish top flight at the end of the 2017/18 season when Sky Sports decided not to renew due to a worrying decreasing viewership.
The warning signs were already in place for Eleven after just over 6,000 people tuned in to watch one of Celta Vigo’s La Liga matches last season on Sky.
The channel has only been active in the UK territory for four months after expanding operations following success in Italy, Poland and Portugal respectively.
Despite holding rights for several European leagues such as La Liga, Eredivisie, Serie A and Allsvenskan the channel is in danger of shutting down due to shareholder pressure, large losses, and underwhelming subscription figures.
The Telegraph suggest that just 50,000 subscriptions have been activated since early bird offers began in August.
It currently costs £5.99 a month for a subscription which at current user base generates a measly income of less than £300,000 per month.
At its current rate, Eleven Sports are making a loss in the UK market and will be unable to continue for much longer unless they get a change in fortunes and increased distribution.
The broadcaster faced early backlash in August after launching without Chromecast, game console app or Fire TV app, which likely damaged subscription numbers.
Whilst further controversy was caused when they discovered that their coverage would be subject to the 3pm blackout, meaning that subscribers would often miss the first 15-minutes of a 3pm kick off.
The initiative started in the 1950s and is observed only in England, Scotland and Montenegro.
Eleven’s competitors Sky, BT and Virgin have made it difficult for the new kid on the block to gain a place on their established distribution network after they had the desire to launch a traditional TV channel.
Talks were held with Virgin last month but the two companies failed to reach an agreement.
Eleven Sports took yet another blow recently when UFC which was planned for a January roll out pulled out of an exclusive deal after the deal depended on Eleven being present on the channel lists of Sky, Virgin and BT which is not possible at this time.
An Eleven Sports spokesman told the Telegraph:
‘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 discussions with our rights partners, La Liga and IMG, about how we can restructure our existing agreements in order to continue our current OTT [streaming] service.’
It’s unclear at this stage how this will affect Eleven Sport’s rights agreement with La Liga, but one thing is for sure at current subscriber numbers, Spain’s top league could very likely be on a different broadcaster as early as next season.