DAZN defends practices after €500,000 fine for Serie A advertising
DAZN, the international subscription over-the-top service, has described as "hypothetical" two alleged "unfair commercial practices" for which it has been fined €500,000 ($566,000) by the AGCM, Italy's communications regulator.
The AGCM accused DAZN of misleading customers with its advertising of domestic soccer's Serie A.
But DAZN said it has acted "with transparency" in the market, albeit it conceded that "we nonetheless accept this decision with full respect for the authority."
Last month, the AGCM fined Sky Italia €7 million in the same case, with the pay-TV operator vowing to appeal.
DAZN said in a statement: "We take note of the decision of the AGCM communicated in relation to the alleged aggressiveness of the advertising campaigns and to hypothetical unfair commercial practices. From the very beginning of the preliminary investigation, the group has always shown the maximum collaboration and has independently carried out various improvements in relation to the pipelines identified by the AGCM, which are currently to be considered largely outdated.
"The fundamental value of DAZN is to put sports enthusiasts at the center of their efforts, working to meet their needs, with a view to transparency and in full compliance with current regulations."
The AGCM sanctioned DAZN for "two unfair commercial practices."
Specifically, the authority found that DAZN commercials offering live broadcasts of some Serie A and B games in the 2018-2019 season were "advertising messages through which the possibility of using the service" whenever you want, wherever you want "was emphasized, without making any reference to the technical limitations that could, instead, make it complicated or even prevent it."
In addition, it ruled: "The consumer was presented with the possibility, by registering on the site, to take advantage of a free trial month, with the clarification that registration would not imply the signing of a subscription contract. In fact, the creation of the account effectively determined the conclusion of the DAZN service contract, which, in the absence of cancellation, would have led, after the first month, to the systematic debit of monthly costs."
Sky, which previously held rights to all 380 Serie A games per season, now holds the rights to seven matches per week under a €780-million per-season deal, with DAZN holding rights to the other three games per week and the second-tier Serie B.
While Sky customers can watch all Serie A matches, they must pay an additional €7.99 per month for access to DAZN (compared with the standard €9.90 that DAZN is charging) following a promotional deal signed by the two operators ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The AGCM first launched its investigation into the practices of DAZN and Sky in August, after Codacons, the Italian consumer group, complained to regulators of unfair commercial practices and misleading advertising, claiming that customers in large part felt "defrauded" by the new rights deals.