Deadline for sub-licensed Champions League rights looms for Rai
Rai, the public-service broadcaster in Italy, has yet to decide whether to exercise its option to show matches from the Uefa Champions League next season, with a 31 January deadline looming, according to reports in the country.
Rai sub-licensed from pay-TV's Sky Italia a free-to-air package of rights that includes the best match involving an Italian team on Wednesday nights in each round of matches, plus two semi-final games, the final and the annual Super Cup, in a deal starting with the 2018-19 season.
Should Rai decide to continue with that package for 2019-20, it must agree to pay Sky around €30 million ($34.2 million).
If Rai opts not to exercise its purchase right, the rights will likely go back on the market, with Sky said to be keen to recoup some of the €270 million to €290 million a season it has shelled out over the three-year cycle.
Sky outbid incumbent broadcaster Mediaset to land the Italian rights to the Champions League to 2020-21 in June 2017, with the Rai sub-licensing deal announced a year ago.
Rai lost free-to-air rights to the Champions League for the 2012-13 to 2014-15 seasons, having provided live coverage since the 2006-07 campaign.
The 2018-19 Champions League is the first to have four automatic places reserved for Italy following changes to the qualifying structure. Juventus and AS Roma subsequently qualified for the knockout stages, but Napoli and Inter Milan have dropped into the second-tier Europa League, which resumes next month.
• Rai attracted an average audience of 7.8 million for its coverage of the controversial Supercopa, the annual contest between the winners of Serie A and the Coppa Italia, in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
The figure equated to a viewing share of 36 per cent, while the audience peaked at 9 million as Juventus beat AC Milan 1-0 in Jeddah,
It was the most-watched Supercopa since the 2014 edition in Doha, Qatar, when an average 7.85 million people tuned in.
The staging of the game in Saudi Arabia was met with stiff resistance as a result of international outrage over the murder in October of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and also because of Saudi Arabia’s alleged harbouring of beoutQ, the pirate broadcaster of BeIN's coverage of a range of sports properties, including Serie A.