Fox acquires football rights ahead of Italian channel launch, report says

The Fox International Channels broadcast subsidiary of media conglomerate News Corporation has acquired Italian media rights to English Premier League, FA Cup, Spanish Liga and French Ligue 1 football for the three seasons from 2013-14 to 2014-15 seasons ahead of launching a new pay-television channel in Italy, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Pitch International agency holds Italy’s Premier League rights for three years, from 2013-14 to 2015-16, and had acquired the rights to La Liga from April this year through to the end of the 2014-15 season. It had been seeking a profitable way to exploit the rights.

Fox will reportedly spend €20m ($26m) to €25m per season for the rights to the four football competitions.

The newspaper reports it is yet to be decided whether the new Fox channel will be included within pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia’s sports or football package, or demand an additional subscription fee. It could also be carried on pay-television platform Mediaset Premium.

In addition to the football rights, Gazzetta reports that Fox will also acquire the rights previously held by ESPN’s US sport channel ESPN America, which is preparing to cease transmission in the country on July 31. In March, ESPN sent a letter to distributors saying that broadcasts of ESPN America, which is distributed on pay-television platforms across Europe, and the archive channel ESPN Classic, would end on this date.

The newspaper added that Fox’s entry into the Italian market “marks a revolution” in the country’s television industry.