Frank Dunne

When Italian state broadcaster Rai bought the rights to the 2022 Fifa World Cup in April, it acquired two things: exclusive rights and a problem.

As media giants jostle for position in an increasingly competitive European market, Frank Dunne explores the state of the pay-television industry in 2021.

The Octagon agency said this week that the centralisation of media rights to nine top-division European football leagues was about long-term growth, not a short-term cash injection.

Italy’s second-tier football league, Serie B, looks set to be rewarded for creative thinking in the face of difficult market conditions, securing a 25-per-cent increase in the value of its domestic media rights with further deals in the pipeline.

The value of the rights to second- and third-tier properties in Italy is enjoying a mini-boom in the wake of DAZN’s acquisition in March of the main live rights to Serie A for the next three seasons. Faced with the loss of its key property, Sky is fighting back, renewing deals with MotoGP and the Bundesliga and snatching rights currently held by DAZN, such as Serie B and Ligue 1.

The new three-year deals, from 2022-23 to 2024-25, would replicate the current three-year deals, from 2019-20 to 2021-22. This includes the duration, the fee and the number of matches.

The sports industry has paid tribute this week to Marco Bogarelli, who died of complications relating to the Covid-19 virus on Monday evening, aged 64

The International Basketball Federation (Fiba) said this week that its two-year deal with Twitch is an “unscripted exercise” that carries risk but is a necessary experiment to reach younger fans.

The collapse in December of the French football league’s media-rights deal with Mediapro is the biggest market setback suffered by a European league for nearly two decades – since the failure of the ITV Digital pay-television platform nearly bankrupted the English Football League in 2002.

Boosting the take-up of TriathlonLive, the direct-to-consumer OTT service operated jointly by the Infront agency and World Triathlon, is seen by experts as the agency’s best chance of increasing the margins on its global rights deal with the sport’s world governing body.

Adding Eurosport’s content to a bundle of Discovery channels is the key to helping Discovery Communications build market share for its new subscription streaming platform discovery+ in an increasingly competitive OTT landscape, according to Andrew Georgiou, the president of Eurosport’s global sports rights and sports marketing solutions.

Serie A’s carve out of important rights in its international rights invitation to tender for the 2021-24 cycle has surprised potential agency bidders. Agency sources say there is a premium attached to being the sole global distributor of a property, which is reflected in rights fees. This will be lost in the current process.