Serie A nears free-to-air decision with Rai highlights holdbacks ‘to be lifted’

An embargo on Serie A highlights aired by Italian public broadcaster Rai looks set to be dropped as the league returns to action this weekend.

The matter was to be discussed at a Lega Serie A assembly meeting this afternoon but a deal is reported to have been struck so that highlights can be aired immediately after matches finish.

An agreement was reached between the Italian government, the league and broadcasters, according to Gazzetta dello Sport and will remain in place until the end of the season.

The highlights are set to be broadcast on Rai’s linear Rai 2 channel after the 5:15pm (CET) and 7:30pm matches. The full Serie A schedule for the remainder of the season is yet to be completely finalised.

Rai has previously been bound by an embargo which prevents it from immediately broadcasting them on any of its platforms.

Pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia and subscription OTT platform DAZN hold live Serie A rights in deals which expire following the end of the 2020-21 season.

It has also been reported that two live matches will be made available on a free-to-air basis as Serie A returns this weekend. It has been proposed that DAZN makes coverage of the Verona-Cagliari match available on its YouTube channel and that Sky also airs the Atalanta-Sassuolo match on TV8, its free-to-air digital terrestrial channel.

It is thought to have been proposed that the free-to-air coverage does not include advertisements breaks (including up to 15 minutes before and after the match).

The clubs were also scheduled to discuss these proposals this afternoon.

Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset has approached Italy’s antitrust authorities over the plans to showcase Serie A on free-to-air television. Mediaset’s stance is thought to have been to ask that either all broadcasters are able to broadcast Serie A matches on a free-to-air basis or that no advertisements can be carried if just one broadcaster is chosen.

The issue of free-to-air coverage for behind-closed-doors Serie A matches has been debated widely in recent weeks.

Vincenzo Spadafora, Italy’s Sports Minister, last month proposed similar free-to-air exposure to that adopted by the Bundesliga since its return after the Covid-19 shutdown.

He suggested a Diretta Gol show – the broadcasting of near-live goals and action from various simultaneous matches in a single broadcast – on a free-to-air basis.

Sky Deutschland has made its ‘Konferenz’ coverage of Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga matches available following the resumption of football in Germany. Sky’s Konferenz has been available on the free-to-view Sky Sport News channel and free via a live stream on the Sky Sport website.

Serie A was one of the first leagues in Europe to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic with Italian football returning in the last week with the Coppa Italia knockout competition.

Rai broadcast the second legs of both semi-final clashes on June 12 and 13, registering 8.28 million viewers for the match between Juventus and AC Milan. Last night’s (June 17) final between Napoli and Juventus eclipsed even that total with 10.2 million viewers.

(additional reporting by Martin Ross)