Coppa Italia ratings down 14 per cent in first year of new Rai deal
Rai's decision to pay a 61 per cent uplift to retain rights to domestic soccer's knockout Coppa Italia did not pay dividends in season one of the new cycle, with the public-service broadcaster's ratings for the competition down almost 14 per cent on average year-on-year.
The Coppa Italia final was staged on Wednesday evening, with Lazio defeating Atalanta 2-0. It was the first time since 2014 that the country's biggest club, Juventus, did not appear in (and indeed win) the final.
Wednesday's match on Rai Uno drew an average audience of 7.3 million, equal to a market share of 28.7 per cent.
Unsurprisingly, it was the largest Coppa Italia TV audience of the year, with Atalanta's surprise 3-0 win over Juventus in the quarter-final the only other game to break the 7-million viewership barrier this season.
Throughout the competition, the average audience on Rai was 3.91 million, a market share of 16.7 per cent.
In the 2017-18 season, Coppa Italia matches averaged 4.53 million viewers on Rai, or a market share of 18.7 per cent.
Last year's final between Juventus and AC Milan drew an average 10.5 million viewers (39.2 per cent).
A year ago, Rai retained domestic rights to the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa, the annual contest featuring the reigning cup and league champions, agreeing to paying €35.5 million ($40 million) per season from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
The fee exceeded the minimum price of €30 million per season set in the ITT document, and comfortably bettered the average of €22 million per season paid by Rai in the previous three-season cycle.
A bid by free-to-air rival Mediaset also breached the reserve price, but failed to match Rai’s offer.
Following their victory this week, Lazio will play Serie A champions Juventus in the next Supercoppa, which looks set to be played in August and in Italy, following January's controversial edition in Saudi Arabia, according to reports in the country.
The match in Jeddah was the first in a deal between Serie A and the ministry of sports in Saudi Arabia to stage the game in the Middle East country twice over the next four years.
However, there was fierce opposition to the decision to take the game to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.
Staging the next match in Riyadh would net each team €3.375 million, with an additional €750,000 going to Serie A, but according to the Corriere dello Sport newspaper, plans have been formulated to stage the game on the weekend of 17 and 18 August, a week before the official start of the league season.
Such a date would make playing the game in the extreme summer heat of Saudi Arabia unfeasible.