Serie A-Mediapro in-house TV channel 'to earn clubs €1.2bn per season'
Mediapro's offer to create an in-house television channel for Italian soccer's top-tier Serie A would be worth a minimum €1.2 billion ($1.36 billion) per season to the clubs, according to reports in the country.
A technical commission, led by Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo, is presently assessing the merits of establishing a league channel with the Spanish media rights and production agency to exploit the rights for the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle.
Club owners met yesterday and were informed they would be collectively guaranteed €1.06 billion per season from the channel project. Mediapro would additionally offer up €55 million for archive rights and spend €78 million per season on production and distribution, according to Il Sore 24 Ore, the Italian daily business newspaper.
Mediapro will take the first €90 million earned over the €1.2 billion, after which the revenue surplus would be split 75 per cent to the league and 25 per cent to Mediapro.
At present, pay-TV's Sky shares live rights to Serie A with DAZN, the international over-the-top service, in three-year deals worth €937 million per season, which came into effect at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
At the start of 2018, Serie A accepted an offer from Mediapro for domestic media rights from 2018-19 to 2020-21 valued at just €1,000 above the €1.05-billion annual reserve price.
It was approved by Italy’s antitrust watchdog, but only on condition that the agency acted as a broker, selling the rights to other broadcasters.
It was reported at the time that Mediapro would be lobbying Serie A clubs that the best path to pursue would be the creation of a league channel to be distributed on various platforms.
This did not come to pass, and in May 2018, following a legal challenge from Sky, the Court of Milan effectively cancelled the invitation to tender launched by Mediapro, saying that the packages drawn up by the agency “would put Mediapro in a monopoly position, inhibiting the freedom of other operators and forcing them to pay more for television services.”
That ruling was upheld, on appeal, by which time the league had already terminated its deal with Mediapro on the grounds that the company had not offered the necessary financial guarantees, and subsequently awarded rights to Sky and DAZN, which only launched in Italy last year.Sky has already stated that it will fight hard to retain the Serie A contract, while Mediapro and the league's plans could be thwarted by the Melandri Law, which governs Serie A’s collective selling of rights and which requires the sale of TV rights through a public tender.
Only in the event of unsatisfactory results in the tender would the league be able to proceed with the channel initiative, albeit, according to reports in Italy, Mediapro believes it could appeal to Article 13 of the Melandri Law, which states that so long as the principles of free competition are met, the league could "create its own platform... or create audiovisual products and distribute them directly to users, through official thematic channels or through their own thematic channel, accessing the necessary technical and commercial services on fair, transparent, non-discriminatory and cost-oriented conditions."
In the last few months, Mediapro has stepped up its Serie A lobbying campaign, bringing in Matteo Mammi, the former senior director of sports rights, programming and production at Sky Italia, as an adviser.
In December, Mammi lost out (by 15 votes to 4) to de Siervo in the election to become Serie A chief executive.
Another Mediapro Italy consultant is Marco Bogarelli, a key figure in previous Serie A rights tenders, and the former Infront Italy president.Meanwhile, Serie A could be ready to break its contract with Saudi Arabia over hosting rights to the Supercopa, the annual contest between the winners of the league and the Coppa Italia, due to the Middle East nation's alleged harbouring of beoutQ, the pirate broadcaster.
BeoutQ has been pirating Qatar-based international pay-TV sports broadcaster BeIN's coverage of a range of sports properties, including Serie A.
January's Supercopa in Jeddah was the first in a €21-million ($23.9-million) deal between Serie A and the ministry of sports in Saudi Arabia to stage three editions of the Supercopa in the country over a five-year period.
BeIN twice wrote to Serie A urging the league to reconsider its decision to play in Saudi Arabia, but was unsuccessful.
However, De Siervo told reporters yesterday: "Serie A stands next to BeIN Sports against BeoutQ in the fight against piracy. For Serie A, this is a fundamental area, from which about a third of the revenues from international TV rights come. We have already taken legal action, we will start shortly to make a strong campaign towards our Government and other Governments to bring the BeoutQ phenomenon to the total reduction."He added: "Can you skip the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia? It is a war that can entail all consequences."