Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, wants more sports content for his Mexican telecom America Movil. He could try to negotiate broadcast rights with the teams and leagues. Or, as he’s done this year, simply buy a few teams.
Over the weekend, Slim paid 2 million euros ($2.5 million) for a controlling stake in the Spanish soccer team Real Oviedo, an investment he made through his company Inmobiliaria Carso, Bloomberg News reported. On Aug. 31, Slim bought 30 percent stakes in two Mexican soccer teams, Club Pachuca and Club Leon. He made the investments through his America Movil, the biggest mobile-phone carrier in the Americas by subscribers, as my colleague Crayton Harrison reported.
Slim’s telco doesn’t have a license to operate pay-television services in Mexico, so American Movil subscribers are left with second-tier programming, such as the Pan American Games (it’s like the neglected stepchild of the Olympics). Slim is looking to bulk up the carrier’s entertainment offerings as it does battle with Grupo Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster that has been spending billions of dollars to go after Slim’s communications business.
A telecom or media company doesn’t have to own teams to carry clout in sports. In the U.K., BT Group acquired the rights to broadcast Premier League soccer games this year. BT’s pay-TV competitors like Virgin Media are eager to carry those games. And in the U.S., Walt Disney sold off its baseball and hockey teams several years ago as it built ESPN into a dominant force in sports.
But when you’re worth $71 billion, as Slim is, owning a few soccer clubs can’t hurt.