Eleven, Eurosport, Mediapro and Perform among Serie B suitors
By Martin Ross
A total of seven broadcasters and media companies have registered for private talks to acquire domestic rights to Italian soccer’s second-tier Serie B from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
Interested parties were handed a deadline of 7pm (CET) on Monday by which to signal their intentions after bids in the invitation to tender process failed to meet the stipulated minimum price.
Sky Italia, the pay-TV broadcaster and incumbent Serie B rights-holder, will participate in the private talks, as will rival Mediaset, Eleven Sports, the international subscription broadcaster, the Discovery-owned Eurosport, Fox Networks Group and Perform, the international digital sports content and media group.
The list is rounded off by Mediapro, the Spanish rights agency that has secured the Serie A rights for the next three seasons.
Lega Serie B said that it will hold private negotiations with the different companies in the coming weeks and to be followed by “a communication on the official website of the conclusion of the procedure and the deadline within which to present the offers.”
Lega Serie B set a reserve price of €60.5 million ($71.7 million) per season in the ITT document, a significant uplift on the average of €21.5 million per season committed by Sky in its current three-season contract for all 462 games per season (plus play-off matches).
As in the last rights auction (in 2015), Lega Serie B is marketing the rights by product as opposed to by broadcast platform.
In addition to the main exclusive rights package, there are three additional exclusive rights packages: National TV (digital terrestrial and/or satellite); National Radio; and Near-Live (internet and mobile).
Mediapro previously expressed an interest in acquiring Serie B rights in order to offer a subscription service featuring games from Italy’s top two divisions.
However, the Spanish firm’s Serie A bid was only approved by the AGCM, the Italian antitrust regulator, on the proviso that Mediapro acts as a broker and sells on the rights.