Lega Basket kicks off two-season domestic tender, closes in on Infront deal

Lega Basket, the governing body for Italian basketball’s top division, has launched a domestic invitation to tender for its media rights which will cover the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

The tender comes with a first-round bid deadline of midday (CET) on August 20.

The domestic tender is launched at a time when Lega Basket is understood to be in late-stage negotiations with the Infront agency about the league’s commercial rights.

Current deals with Discovery-owned pan-European sports broadcaster Eurosport and public broadcaster Rai ended after the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. The deal with Discovery was worth upwards of €1.5m ($1.77m) per season with Rai having paid around €500,000 per year.

Eurosport previously held the exclusive pay-television rights to the league for the 2017-18 to 2019-20 cycle, while Rai’s rights were for one game per match week over the same period.

Understood to be included within the tender are an increased inventory of magazine shows and highlights packages as the league aims to increase its profile further within its domestic market.

One source close to the process told SportBusiness: “Italian basketball needs visibility. We understand that we have to regain a certain position in terms of the value of our product.”

The league has forecast a loss of between €38m ($44.9m) and €40m for the financial year due to the negative repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. The league has attributed these losses to a decline in revenues from ticketing, sponsorship and any potential rebates to broadcasters.

SportBusiness understands that a tender for the league’s international rights will be issued next week with a similar timeframe for bids.

Lega Basket and Infront are thought to be close to agreeing a three-season deal, running from 2020-21 to 2022-23, that would see the agency become the league’s sole advisor on commercial and sponsorship matters. The league would continue to handle all matters related to its media rights in-house.

Full parameters of the contract have still to be finalised but a sign-off on the agreement is expected in two weeks’ time.

The deal is thought to include the option to extend for a further three seasons if both parties are happy after the first three seasons.