Serie A to meet next week to discuss international rights bids
By Martin Ross
Lega Serie A, the Italian top-tier soccer league, has convened an extraordinary assembly meeting next week to discuss bids on the table for international broadcast rights from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
The allocation of the international rights is the main point on the agenda at the meeting, to be held in Milan on Tuesday.
A total of 30 companies worldwide lodged 95 different offers for Serie A rights ahead of the 15 September bid deadline, although no rights were awarded immediately as the league and its agency adviser Infront Italy held talks in a bid to drive up the price in excess of the target of €300 million ($351.7 million) per season.
The Serie A international rights are currently held by the MP & Silva agency in a contract worth €185 million per season.
MP & Silva and rival agency IMG are both understood to have lodged global bids for the international rights, while Mediapro, the Spanish sports agency and production company, and Perform, the digital sports content and media group, are also thought to be in the mix.
The league and Infront could opt to award some rights to a broadcaster directly, perhaps in China, where Suning, the Chinese electronics retailer that operates the PPTV online streaming service and owns top club Inter Milan, has lodged a bid. North America is another territory that has been mooted for a direct rights agreement with a broadcaster.
Officials from the league and Infront are thought to have held recent meetings with bidders in London.
Rights to the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana competitions, currently sold by the B4 Capital agency in a contract worth €26 million per season, are being sold together with the Serie A rights.
Lega Serie A and Infront launched their invitation to tender on 8 August, making a total of 85 ‘packages’ available.
The rights to all 380 matches from the Italian top tier were made available on a global basis, but also by five large continental areas (Europe, Americas, Middle East/North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia/Oceania) and in individual countries or groups of countries (see table below).
The rights were split into six main parts, covering: Serie A; Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana; betting rights; in-flight and in-ship rights; ‘pick’ packages; and the ‘Italian communities’ package.
|Summary of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa international rights packages 2018-19 to 2020-21|
|Serie A||380 matches from the premier football division in Italy||Globally, large continental areas and individual countries/groups of countries|
|Coppa Italia||All produced matches from the Coppa Italia as well as the Supercoppa Italiana match||Globally, large continental areas and individual countries/groups of countries|
|Betting||All Serie A matches and all produced Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana matches, for exploitation outside Italy by specialist betting operators||Globally|
|In-flight and in-ship||Serie A, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana live content for viewing on non-Italian planes and ships||Globally|
|Pick||Opportunity to assign preferred Serie A matches to specific kick-off times||Only with 'Serie A' package|
|Italian communities||A dedicated Italian language package specifically intended to serve Italian communities outside Italy||Territories with limited communities of Italians living outside Italy|
|Source: Lega Serie A and Infront|
The league and Infront went to market against the backdrop of an Italian antitrust probe investigating alleged collusion between MP & Silva, B4 Capital and IMG over the sale of the Serie A international broadcast rights.
The landscape going into this tender has altered slightly compared with three years ago, with Infront’s influential Marco Bogarelli, who oversaw the international rights sales processes, having left a new position at parent group Wanda Sports Holding at the end of last year to form a new rights agency.
The rights packages are, on the whole, available on an exclusive basis for the licensed territory, but those successful in winning the rights are permitted to enter sub-licensing agreements.
Serie A and Infront are under pressure to deliver improved results, given the jump in the value of domestic and international rights already achieved by Spain's LaLiga and Germany's Bundesliga, two leagues that have been aggressively promoting their activities internationally.