The Italian Football League (Lega Calcio) has awarded the Italian TV rights for the country’s flagship Serie A league tournament for the period 2018-2021 to Barcelona-based content producer MediaPro for €1.05 billion per year.
According to Deputy Commissioner, Paolo Nicoletti, the bid exceeded the legal minimum and so the League will now inform the Competition Authority in order to obtain its go-ahead (a decision is expected within 45 days). He pointed out that, thanks to the introduction of new participants, the bids have significantly increased from last summer’s €493 million.
Previous bids submitted by Italian pay-TV broadcasters Sky Italia and Mediaset Premium were rejected as insufficient. The two currently share the domestic TV rights, paying €945 million per year for the period 2015-2018.
Commenting on the deal, MediaPro partner Taxto Benet said that subscribers will be at the centre of their strategy and that the Serie A will be available “on every platform, on every possible screen”. The president of the Spanish group, Jaume Roures, stressed that the company will “collaborate with the platforms and open new distribution windows”. He added that a similar formula for the Spanish Liga has resulted in an increase of both revenues and subscribers.
In practice, MediaPro may set up one or more TV channels dedicated to Serie A, which would then be sold to the various digital platforms in Italy (satellite, DTT, Internet, OTT, IPTV, etc.). This would create a real revolution on the local broadcasting market, as live coverage of the Serie A since 1993 has been an exclusivity of Italian pay-TV operators (Tele+, Stream, Cartapiù, Dahila TV, Sky Italia and Mediaset Premium).
Sky Italia has already reacted via a statement from its lawyers, claiming MediaPro’s offer was “inadmissible” and demanding that the League ceases negotiations and excludes the Spanish group from the bidding process. According to the pay-TV operator, MediaPro took part in the bidding as an “independent intermediary”, but, based on press reports, is planning to operate as a broadcaster, “creating one or more thematic TV channels for the Italian Football League and selling advertising space on the same channels”.