Serie B TV to launch on Saturday

Lega Serie B, Italy’s second-tier football league, will launch its own pay-television channel, Serie B TV, on Saturday, showing nine live matches per week and targeting €10 million ($13 million) per season in subscription and advertising revenues.

The broadcaster will show all Serie B matches except the top two matches each week, the rights to which have been acquired by digital-terrestrial pay-television operator Mediaset Premium. The first match will be Juve Stabia v Bari at 5.30pm Central European Time. During the week, the broadcaster will show re-runs of matches, highlights – including those of the top two matches – and magazine programming.

Andrea Abodi, the president of Lega Serie B, said that the potential subscriber base among followers of the 22 clubs was between 100,000 and 150,000. “We decided to tackle the economic crisis head-on, working with partners who guarantee a viewing experience of a high technical level. Our desire is to increase the awareness of Serie B, bringing people back to the stadiums and complementing the offering of broadcasters Sky Italia and Mediaset,” he said. Sky Italia holds the satellite pay-television rights to all Serie B teams.

“While everything seems to be imploding, we are gritting our teeth and entering a delicate sector where others have had unhappy outcomes, like Dahlia TV, which closed down halfway through the season – we won’t do that,” Abodi added.

Dahlia was digital-terrestrial pay-television service owned by Swedish investment vehicle Airplus TV which went bust in January 2011, just four months into the first year of a two-year deal to show the live matches of eight Serie A teams.

Serie B TV is operated for the league by the digital-terrestrial operator Europa 7. It will operate on second-generation digital-terrestrial technology, DVB-T2, which will require customers to acquire a new decoder.

Francesco Di Stefano, president of Europa 7, said that he hoped that Lega Serie A would follow in the steps of the second division by making available the digital-terrestrial rights to the matches of the teams not shown by Mediaset, those previously held by Dahlia. The league has rejected offers for the rights, including from Europa 7, as being either too low or not providing a sufficient minimum guarantee.

Di Stefano said that the Serie B channel was targeting break-even in three years, when it should hit income of €10 million.