Uefa tenders live in Baltics as sales process closes in Italy
By Jonathan Rest
Uefa Champions League rights have hit the market in the Baltic states for the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle, while the sales process is understood to have closed in Italy.
In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, there is one tender for the Champions League and Super Cup and one for the Europa League and new Europa Conference League, which is being established for the benefit of clubs in smaller markets, and will particularly appeal to the Baltic nations.
Broadcasters have been handed a deadline of 23 November to submit offers to Uefa and its Team Marketing agency.
Champions League and Europa League rights in all three countries are presently held by TV3 Group, the prominent media company in the region owned by private equity investment firm Providence Equity Partners.
Increased competition is expected in the Baltics from 2021, when Nordic Entertainment Group launches its Viaplay streaming service in all three countries.
There are no representatives from the Baltics in this season's Champions League or Europa League, with Estonia's FC Flora (pictured) losing in the final play-off round in the secondary competition.
Meanwhile in Italy, Uefa and Team are reported to have finalised the Champions League sales process, with online retail giant Amazon, pay-TV's Sky and commercial broadcaster Mediaset landing the four packages on offer.
The deals have been pegged at €270 million ($320 million) per year by the respected Calcio e Finanza news site.
Mediaset has landed package A1, and will offer free-to-air coverage of the 16 top Tuesday night games for €43 million per year, while incumbent Sky will have to make do with package B, the remaining 104 matches from Europe's top clubs competition, for which it will pay just over €100 million per year.
DAZN, the international over-the-top streaming platform, missed out on packages A1 and B.
Package C, the Champions League final, is also understood to have been awarded to Mediaset.
Rai, the public-service broadcaster, opted out of the bidding, and will instead focus on landing rights to the 2022 Fifa World Cup, rights to which are expected to go on the market early next year.
Sky's present three-year rights deal for the Champions League and Europa League is worth around €300 million per season. It is the first cycle in which four Italian clubs are guaranteed a place in the Champions League group stage.
In the first season of the contract, Sky sub-licensed Champions League rights to Rai, but then turned to Mediaset for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 campaigns.
However, the pay-TV operator was restricted in this tender as, under the terms of a ban imposed by the Council of State, Italy's top administrative court, in June, it cannot acquire and distribute exclusive content on its digital platforms until 2022.
The provision was originally enforced by the AGCM, the country's antitrust authority, in May 2019 following Sky's purchase of R2, the pay-TV services and technical platform of Mediaset Premium, the digital terrestrial TV service.Sportcal