Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset has announced its pay-TV service, Mediaset Premium, will be available via satellite from February or March 2016.
A new multi-platform decoder is being developed that will be able to receive digital terrestrial, broadband as well as digital satellite transmissions. This will enable Mediaset Premium to extends its premium offer (football, movies and TV series) to a wider audience, in a direct challenge to existing pay-TV operator Sky Italia.
The Mediaset Premium offer will upgraded with the launch of a new channels, such as Mediaset Calcio (dedicated to Italian football) and Cinema 2 HD; as well as with the addition of new TV series and movies as a result of content deals signed with Warner, NBC Universal, Medusa and Taodue,
At a press conference, Mediaset vice-president and CEO, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, said that the short and medium term goal is not to make a profit, but rather increase the number of subscribers. The plan is to close 2015 with two million subscribers (from the current 1.7 million) and obtain a return on the investments (such as the exclusive UEFA Champions League TV rights 2015-2018) in three years. He also anticipated that prices will be 20-30 per cent lower than those for Sky Italia packages, but did not want to provide any further details at this stage.
Berlusconi said it is difficult to predict whether there will be space for two pay-TV operators, but is optimistic “if the market continues to grow again”. He stressed there is no talk of a possible merger with Sky Italia, nor will there be any negotiations with the rival regarding the sharing of the Champions League TV rights.
Based on data presented by Mediaset Premium CEO Franco Ricci, the Italian pay-TV market had been growing at a rate of 12 per cent per annum between 2005 and 2011, reaching a high of 7 million customers (Sky + Mediaset Premium), before dropping 3 per cent annually in the next three years. The total customer base currently stands at 6.5 million subscribers (4.7 million Sky Italia, 2.8 million Mediaset Premium).