Four in the mix as Serie B rights bidding comes to a head
Italian soccer’s second-tier Lega Serie B was today meeting with the four parties interested in acquiring broadcast rights for the next three seasons.
Private negotiations have been taking place with pay-television operator Sky Italia, the previous rights-holder, and its rival Mediaset, Perform, the international digital sports content and media group, and Mediapro, the Spanish sports rights agency and production company.
Meetings were scheduled for this morning, with the rights for the 2018-19 to 2020-21 seasons expected to be awarded in the coming days.
Serie B set a reserve price of €60.5 million ($70 million) per season in the invitation to tender document, a significant uplift on the average of €21.5 million per season committed by Sky in its previous three-season contract for all 462 games per season (plus play-off matches).
However, bids in the invitation to tender process last month failed to meet the lofty minimum price.
As during the last rights auction (in 2015), Serie B is marketing the rights by product as opposed to by broadcast platform.
A total of seven broadcasters and media companies initially registered for private talks, comprising the four aforementioned firms plus Eleven Sports, the international subscription broadcaster, the Discovery-owned Eurosport and Fox Networks Group.
It remains to be seen what impact this month’s award of top-tier Serie A rights to Sky and Perform, in three-year deals worth a basic €2.9 billion, will have on the Serie B contest.
The Serie A process was relaunched after the league terminated a disputed distribution deal with Mediapro, but the agency could be back in the mix for the second division rights, and with the possibility of some free-to-air coverage on Mediaset, which has lost live rights to the top flight in the 2018-19 season onwards.
Sky acquired two live Serie A packages, totalling 266 games each season, for €780 million per year, with the other, comprising 114 games each season, going to Perform for €193.3 million per annum.
Perform's acquisition is paving the way for the launch of DAZN, its over-the-top streaming service, in Italy, but the company has said it is prepared to hold talks with all media platforms to secure the broadest possible distribution for its coverage.
As well as weighing up the offers for the broadcasting rights, Serie B is set to announce a new title sponsor after the three-year deal with ConTe.it, the Italian insurance provider, expired at the end of the 2017-18 season.