The pay-TV market in Italy is characterised by limited competition, especially after the withdrawal of Mediaset Premium from the market mid-2019 where Sky Italia was already a dominant player.
After years of losses in both revenues and subscriber numbers and a failed sale to French media group Vivendi, Mediaset Premium, the pay-TV unit of the Mediaset Group, ceased broadcasting its pay-TV channels on Italy’s digital terrestrial television (DTT) network in June 2019, and moved their content to OTT streaming service Infinity, the group's online platform.
This resulted in Italy’s pay-TV subscription numbers falling from 6.7 million in 2018 to 5.5 million at the end of 2019. However, over the 2019-2024 forecast period, pay-TV subscription numbers are estimated to rise steadily to 6.8 million, due to the trend towards bundling pay-TV services.
DTH satellite represented the largest pay-TV platform at the end of 2019, accounting for 88.2 per cent of total pay-TV subscriptions, followed by IPTV with 11.8 per cent. IPTV subscriptions will register robust growth to reach 1.7 million by 2024, supported by the growing adoption of fibre-based IPTV services bundled with broadband plans.
Total pay-TV subscriptions by type, 2018-2024 (millions)
With Mediaset Premium ceasing to broadcast on DTT mid-2019, Italy’s pay-TV household penetration fell from 25.6 per cent in 2018 to 21.2 per cent in 2019, well below the Western European average of 66.0 per cent. Pay-TV household penetration will increase to 25.8 per cent in 2024, supported by rising adoption of multi-play packages with integrated IPTV access, from the leading IPTV service provider Telecom Italia (TIM).
Pay-TV household penetration, 2018-2024 (percentage of households)
DTH satellite broadcaster Sky Italia, the Italian unit of US media group Comcast, has a near monopoly of the pay-TV sector, accounting for an estimated 88.3 per cent of total pay-TV subscriptions at the end of 2019. Despite projected declines in its DTH subscriptions over the forecast period, Sky Italia will remain the leading pay-TV service provider through to 2024.
Telecom Italia (TIM) accounted for an 11.7 per cent share of total pay-TV subscriptions in 2019 with its TIMVision IPTV service. Its subscriptions share will increase to 23.6 per cent by 2024 as the operator continues to promote its fibre-based bundled plans with integrated IPTV access at discounted rates.
Mediaset Premium, which ceased broadcasting on DTT mid-2019, had 21.0 per cent of total pay-TV subscriptions at the end of 2018, equating to 1.4 million subscribers.
Total pay-TV subscription market shares, 2019
Sky Italia, Discovery and OTT streaming service DAZN are the leading providers of premium sports in Italy.
Sky Italia, part of US media group Comcast after their acquisition of European entertainment giant Sky in 2018, had an estimated 4.9 million pay-TV subscribers at the end of 2019.
The satellite broadcaster offers entertainment, news, documentaries, travel, music, sports and children's channels. This includes nine themed sports channels of which four are dedicated to Serie A, Formula 1, MotoGP and NBA, as well as two OTT streaming services NOW TV and Sky GO.
In 2018, Sky Italia’s channels combined for a market share of 6.99 per cent, the third highest of all broadcasters. The leading Sky Sport channel was Sky Supercalcio/Sky Sport Serie A (rebranded mid-2018 before the start of Serie A) with a market share of 0.27 per cent.
The key sports property held by Sky Italia is Serie A, the top tier of the Italian soccer league. The three year deal, worth €780 million ($919 million) per season, runs from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
Other sports rights held by Sky Italia include Uefa European Championship (2020), Uefa Champions League (2018-19 to 2020-21), English Premier League (2019-20 to 2021-22), German Bundesliga (2019-20), FIBA events including Basketball World Cup, Women’s Basketball World Cup and EuroBasket (2016 to 2021), NBA (2019-20 to 2022-23), ATP Tour (2016 to 2020), Wimbledon (2019 to 2022), Formula 1 (2018 to 2020), MotoGP (2019 to 2021) and World SBK (2019 to 2021).
Discovery Italia, the Italian unit of the US-based media giant, operates eight free-to-air channels (NOVE, Real Time, DMAX, Giallo, Motor Trend, Food Network, K2 and Frisbee), four pay channels (Discovery Channel, Discovery Science, Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2) and three OTT streaming platforms - Dplay, Eurosport Player and GOLFTV in Italy.
The 12 channels combined for an overall share of 6.72 per cent in 2018, confirming Discovery as the fourth largest broadcaster in terms of audience. Discovery’s flagship sports channel Eurosport had a market share of 0.11 per cent.
Discovery acquired the broadcast rights in Europe for the 2018 to 2024 Olympic Games for €1.3 billion ($1.45 billion) in 2015. TIM acquired mobile rights to PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 in a sub-license deal with Discovery.
Discovery has also secured the international rights to broadcast and stream golf’s PGA Tour outside the United States in a 12-year deal from 2019 until 2030. Discovery’s live and on-demand video streaming service, GOLFTV, launched in Italy in 2019.
Other sports rights held by Discovery include three of tennis’ four grand slams– Australian Open (2017 to 2021), Roland Garros (2015 to 2021) and US Open (2018 to 2022), Tour de France (2016 to 2019, 2020 to 2023), Giro d’Italia (2017 to 2020), Vuelta a España (2016 to 2020), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2017 to 2020), rugby’s Six Nations Championship (2018 to 2021) and all FIS World Cup and World Championship events (2016-17 to 2020-21).
DAZN, the global OTT sports streaming service, launched in Italy in August 2018 after the acquisition of rights to Serie A. The three-year deal, worth €193 million ($228 million) per season, runs from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
DAZN also secured rights to Serie B, the country’s second-tier soccer league. The three-year deal, worth €22 million ($26 million) per season, covers the 2018-19 to 2020-21 period.
DAZN reached an agreement with Sky Italia for the launch of a new DAZN1 satellite television channel in September 2019 covering Serie A and Serie B soccer games. The agreement runs until June 2021, which is when the current Italian television rights for Serie A and Serie B expire.
DAZN also reached a deal with TIM at the end of 2019 that enables the Italian telecoms group to offer DAZN’s sports content on its own IPTV service TIMVision.
Other rights held by DAZN include Spanish LaLiga (2018-19 to 2020-21), French Ligue 1 (2018-19 to 2020-21), Dutch Eredivisie (2019-20), English Football League (2019-20), North America's Major League Soccer (2019 to 2022), CEV Volleyball European Championship (2019 & 2021), CEV Champions League Volley (2018-19 to 2019-20), MotoGP (2020 to 2021), European Rugby Champions Cup (2018-19 to 2021-22) and Pro14 (2018-19 to 2020-21), the annual cross-border rugby competition involving two sides from Italy.
There were over 30 million accounts to free and pay OTT streaming platforms in Italy at January 2019, according to research undertaken by Ernst & Young (EY), a global leader in advisory services.
Free-to-view video on demand (VOD) platforms like YouTube, RaiPlay and Mediaset Play had an estimated 22.6 million users in January 2019.
The number of subscribers to subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, TIMVision, Sky’s NOW TV, Mediaset’s Infinity and DAZN had grown to 8 million in January 2019.
Key Sports Rights