Italian media group Mediaset said this week it expected to make a healthy profit on its acquisition of 2018 Fifa World Cup rights by showing all matches free-to-air.
Italy’s Lega Serie A is hoping to earn €1.05bn ($1.26bn) per season for its domestic live rights in this month’s tender process. To hit that figure, or even come close to it, the league will need to do something it has failed to do in previous auctions: secure an offer which meets its valuation of its OTT rights.
July 26 and 27, 2017, are two days that could completely reshape the sale of Serie A international media rights.
Pay-television platform Sky Italia is thought to have agreed to pay just over €300m ($336m) per season for exclusive rights to the Uefa Champions League and Europa League from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
Lega Serie A and Uefa are in a race to be first to sell their rights in Italy for the period 2018-19 to 2020-21.
A group of Italian MPs from the coalition government has submitted an amendment to the Melandri Law which would require one live Serie A match per week to be shown on free-to-air television.
The investigation by Italy’s antitrust authority into the sale of Serie A rights, which led to €66m ($75m) in fines being handed down this month, centred on negotiations in a four-day period in June 2014 after bids had been made.
Sky Italia’s investment in this summer’s two major football tournaments – Euro 2016 and the Copa América Centenario – came as a surprise as the broadcaster had said it has abandoned its strategy of acquiring rights to major events. It does not, however, represent a U-turn – the deals were last-minute, opportunistic acquisitions.
Italy’s antitrust authority has notified Lega Serie A, Infront Sports & Media, Mediaset and Sky Italia that their behaviour during the auction process for Serie A media rights constituted a breach of European competition law.
Italian state broadcaster Rai is the strong favourite to land the rights for Euro 2016, which were put out to tender this week, and is expected to do so at a substantial discount.
Rupert Murdoch’s two Italian pay-television businesses – the Sky Italia satellite platform and the Fox Sports premium channel – reinforced their football portfolios this week as rival operator Mediaset inched closer to a deal to sell a stake in its Mediaset Premium platform to Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports.
Last week’s Serie A rights-sharing deal between Italian pay-television operators Mediaset Premium and Sky Italia does not appear to presage a wider truce between the two companies, including a sharing of Uefa Champions League rights.
The 20 clubs of Italy’s Serie A are trying to pick the best possible combination of bids from a rights auction marked by an extraordinary degree of tactical bidding that has thrown the process into confusion.
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