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DAZN set for Italy as Sky, Perform land Serie A rights

Pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia and digital sports content and media group Perform have acquired domestic rights to Serie A, the top division of Italian football, in deals worth a total of €973.3m ($1.166bn) per season.

The announcement by Lega Serie A on Wednesday evening follows a troubled year-long process to determine the league’s next set of rights for the three seasons spanning 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Sky, an existing rights-holder, has acquired two packages, the first of which, Package 5, includes rights to three matches per weekend for a total of 114 per season, including the 8.30pm game on Sunday. Sky has also acquired Package 6 – four matches per weekend or 152 per season, including the 8.30pm match on Mondays.

Perform has landed Package 7, which comprises three matches per day or 114 per season, including the 8.30pm slot on Saturday. Perform today (Thursday) confirmed that it will exploit the rights by launching its OTT platform, DAZN, in Italy.

In addition to its live rights, DAZN will show highlights of all Serie A matches. Subscriptions to the service will be priced at €9.99 per month, with an initial one-month free trial being offered.

James Rushton, chief executive of DAZN, said: “Our entry into Italy with Serie A rights is the first of many announcements we expect to make in the coming weeks as we reveal a range of premium domestic and international sports rights to create a multi-sport offering that is accessible, affordable and lives up to our fans first philosophy.”

The Lega, governing body of Serie A, said that on top of the fixed fee of €973.3m, the organisation is entitled to up to €150m per season in bonus payments dependent on Sky and Perform’s ability to secure subscribers to their packages.

Lega Serie A president Gaetano Miccichè said: “This is an important recognition for Italian football, whose value is not only sporting but also of employment… contributing to the economic growth of Italy.

“Football today is among the top 10 industries in our country, and this agreement is the basis on which to develop a modern and international league and make the Italian championship increasingly interesting, also abroad.”

The Lega said it will also market in the next month, in addition to the packages already offered in a tender, free-to-air highlights rights for matches to be played at the weekend, to be aired from 7pm on Sunday evenings. This appears to provide hope that 90° minuto, a programme aired by state broadcaster Rai, will be saved.

Earlier this week, Mediapro claimed it acquired a non-compliant product after the Court of Milan rejected its appeal against a ruling that led to Lega Serie A scrapping its deal with the agency. A panel of three judges upheld the ruling on May 9 from Judge Claudio Marangoni, who last month ruled that Mediapro and Lega Serie A had to re-evaluate a tender launched in April, following a challenge lodged by Sky.

Sky initially secured the suspension of the tender process following a ruling on April 16. Marangoni stated that the tender must be cancelled as it was not properly formulated and breached antitrust rules, a verdict that Mediapro had appealed against.

The series of rulings last week saw the Lega move into private negotiations with broadcasters for rights to the next three seasons, having cancelled its contract with Mediapro on May 28. Lega Serie A in February accepted an offer for its domestic broadcast rights from Mediapro for the period spanning 2018-19 to 2020-21. The Lega said the agency had made an offer worth €1,050,001,000 per season, exceeding the minimum revenue target of €1.05bn that had been set, but the deal had been met with challenges ever since it was struck.

The Reuters news agency said Mediapro did not take part in yesterday’s auction, while Mediaset, which had broadcast the 2017-18 season through its Premium pay-television arm with Sky, confirmed that it had been outbid.

In a statement, Mediaset criticised the “totally unbalanced” contracts on offer, adding it offered a total of €600m over the three seasons. Mediaset said it will now seek to enter sublicensing talks with Sky and Perform.

Commenting on the Lega’s deals with Sky and Perform, Micciché said, according to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport: “Negotiations are underway between Sky and Perform for the retransmission of Serie A matches. I hope that Italian fans are not forced to buy two season tickets to have the chance to watch all the football on TV.”