The main goal of Canal + Spain was to reach a significant amount of subscribers by offering programming unavailable on other channels. Following the French programming model, Canal + adopted a logic of product differentiation and technological innovation. It featured two main types of content: a diverse roster of films, shown shortly after their theatrical release, and perhaps most importantly, the innovative broadcasting of live sports events, more specifically, football.This article focuses on sports programming in the beginning of Canal + Spain. First, it offers an account of the Spanish television landscape in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then, it scrutinizes the arrival of commercial television within the Spanish mediascape, thus examining the launching of Canal + by paying attention to the specificity of the Spanish audiovisual market. Second, this essay analyzes the types of live sports broadcasts, focusing on football, in Canal + during the early 1990s in order to account for their importance in creating a unique kind of product designed to appeal to potential subscribers. More specifically, we will argue that live football broadcasts did not only attempt to establish a clear demarcation with the old-fashioned image and soundscapes of traditional television, but also aimed at culturally appealing to a urbanite, cultivated spectator, precisely the type of viewer Canal + tried to recruit in its early days. Therefore, we will discuss how technological excellence and spectacle became tools for the expression of specific cultural values. In short, Canal + offered a content and technology-driven “change of aesthetics” within the Spanish mediascape in the early 1990s.

Canal +, European television, Spanish television, football broadcast, technology
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
VIEW Journal
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VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture; Vol 6, No 11 (2017): History of Europe’s Commercial TV; 33-40

Ortega, Vicente Rodríguez, & Romero Santos, Rubén. (2017). Canal + Spain and Live Football Broadcasts: A Whole Different Game. VIEW Journal, 6(11), 33–40. doi:10.18146/2213-0969.2017.jethc121