Mediapro's all-encompassing Serie A bid leaves Sky in the cold
Mediapro's offer to Serie A for its domestic media rights involves the Spanish agency becoming the exclusive commercial partner of Italian soccer's top flight, pushing the league's long-term broadcast partner Sky Italia out of the picture entirely, according to reports in the country.
Mediapro has submitted an offer worth €1.28 billion per season for the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle to set up a dedicated Serie A channel.
The 20 top-flight clubs were due to vote on the proposal on Monday, but that was delayed and is now expected next week.
Mediapro and Lega Serie A have been in negotiations for several weeks over the possible launch of an in-house TV channel that would carry all the games, as well as pre- and post-match shows, and highlights and magazine programming.
It had been unclear whether Mediapro's desire was for the channel to be sold direct-to-consumer or to broadcasters, including incumbent rights-holders Sky, the pay-TV giant, and DAZN, the over-the-top subscription platform.
The agency's 11-page proposal, seen by the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper and put to the league this week, would see Mediapro take full control of the audiovisual business, including having "the exclusive and non-revocable mandate for direct marketing to users (and commercial establishments) as well as for advertising collection."The Melandri Law, which governs Serie A’s collective selling of rights, requires the sale of TV rights through a public tender.
Only in the event of unsatisfactory results in the tender would the league be able to proceed with the channel initiative, but Mediapro believes it can press ahead with its plan by using Article 13 of the Melandri Law, which states that so long as the principles of free competition are met, the league could "create its own platform... or create audiovisual products and distribute them directly to users, through official thematic channels or through their own thematic channel, accessing the necessary technical and commercial services on fair, transparent, non-discriminatory and cost-oriented conditions."
There remain concerns among some clubs over the ability of Mediapro, owned by China's Orient Hontai Capital, to finance the deal and whether the lack of a public tender for the rights would withstand a legal challenge.
Sky has already expressed its intention to bid high to retain Serie A rights, which it shares with DAZN in three-year deals worth €973 million that came into effect at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
Earlier this week, Andrea Zappia, chief executive of Sky Europe, and formerly of Sky Italia, wrote to Serie A officials: "We are your historical partners, we have recorded excellent ratings in the last championship and we are ready to support the maximum effort in terms of investments on Serie A for the future."