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Eleven Sports UK on the brink after failure to secure pay TV carriage

Sports streaming service Eleven Sports could be about to close or curtail its UK operations after failing to sign a carriage deal with any major pay TV operator.

The service launched at the beginning of August, and became the new UK home of Serie A and La Liga football, alongside a selection of other sports. However, it's only been available online and not via any established pay TV operator, such as Sky, Virgin Media or BT TV.

A number of news outlets are reporting today that UFC mixed martial arts coverage rights are being handed back to BT Sport after UFC enacted a break clause in their contract  - UFC was due to launch on Eleven Sports next month.

Rights to Serie A and La Liga are being handed back to the original rights owners.

Eleven Sports briefly tried to offer live coverage of Italian and Spanish football during the England & Scotland blackout period on Saturday afternoons before being threatened with legal action. In recent weeks, it's been offering free coverage of Serie A and La Liga via the STV Player.

An Eleven Sports spokesman told the Daily 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."

The service isn't the first to find that a regular linear TV service on a regular TV platform can be a problem. In Germany, Eurosport, who took over some coverage of the Bundesliga, hastily had to add a special service, Eurosport 2Xtra to TV platform HD+ in order to comply with a clause requiring the broadcaster to screen coverage on a regular platform - with Eurosport 1 free-to-air in the country, and Eurosport 2 under a carriage contract with rival Sky, Eurosport initially advertised the coverage as being online via Eurosport Player only.  Also in Germany, sports streaming service DAZN runs an unpublicised linear channel on a small northern German cable network, also thought to be done in order to meet contractual requirements.

The operations of Eleven Sports in other countries is not at risk - the broadcaster has already established a number of outlets around Europe, which also include linear satellite broadcasts of its two sports channels.