BeIN renegotiates final year of Serie A contract on reduced terms
By Jonathan Rest
Serie A returned to the screens of BeIN Sports over the weekend, but a renegotiated contract with the international pay-television broadcaster for 2020-21 will cost the Italian league more than what it receives from the Saudi Arabian government for staging its Supercoppa in the country, Sportcal has learned.
BeIN holds rights to Serie A for the 2018-19 to 2020-21 cycle in 35 territories, including France, Turkey, Australia and the Middle East and North Africa, paying around €155 million ($174.4 million) per season in a deal with the IMG agency.
However, the first week back of Serie A was blacked out across BeIN's channels because of the league's close links with Saudi Arabia.
BeIN is banned from operating in Saudi Arabia because of a long-running diplomatic dispute with Qatar, while the Saudi government has been found responsible by the World Trade Organisation for piracy of broadcasts carried out by beoutQ, the network based in the country that has been stealing BeIN's premium sports content, including the Italian league.
The broadcaster and the league have now renegotiated their deal for the remaining season and while it will remain an exclusive contract, the fee "reflects how BeIN was sold exclusive rights but which have been non-exclusive due to piracy."
A BeIN spokesman said: “We are delighted to announce the return of Serie A live and exclusive on our channels across 35 countries with immediate effect... The agreement reached regarding Serie A sets a major precedent, reinforcing what BeIN and other international broadcasters have been saying for years:- if rights-holders don’t tackle piracy, they’ll only receive non-exclusive fees.”
The broadcaster did not reveal how much of the €155 million outlay to Serie A it will receive back in compensation from the league, but Sportcal understands it is significantly more than the €21 million the Saudi Arabian ministry of sports is paying to stage three editions of the Supercoppa in the Middle East country over a five-year period.
Two of those matches have already been played, and before last December's clash BeIN had warned that it was considering ending the contract if the league did not reconsider its decision to take the competition to Saudi Arabia.
However, Luigi de Siervo, chief executive of Serie A, noted at the time that league had no choice but to honour the contract with the country's government.
Before the first Supercoppa in January 2019, BeIN chief executive Yousef Al-Obaidly wrote to the league on several occasions in a bid to block the game taking place in the “piracy-supporting” nation.
BeIN's deal with Serie A accounts for around 55 per cent of the league's overseas TV revenue.