The deal

The 20 clubs competing in Italian men’s soccer’s top-tier Serie A have voted to accept domestic rights bids for the next five seasons from current broadcast partners Sky Italia, the pay-TV giant, and sports streaming platform DAZN.

The broadcasters’ bids for the next rights cycle, covering the 2024-25 to 2028-29 seasons, are worth at least €4.6 billion ($4.8 billion) in total, or €900 million per season – a small decrease from Sky Italia and DAZN’s current rights deal which brings in €930 million annually.

DAZN will pay €700 million per year to air every fixture during the five seasons, while Sky will contribute €200 million annually to co-broadcast three weekly games alongside DAZN out of the 10 available.

In total 266 games out of 380 each year will be available exclusively through DAZN.

Of the 20 Serie A clubs, 17 voted to accept the deal. Napoli is understood to have rejected the offer, with their owner Aurelio De Laurentiis telling Italian media the deal is “a total defeat for Italian football, these deals will be the death of Italian football.”

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The detail

The successful vote ends a drawn-out and at times painful process over five months to secure the league’s domestic rights partner for the next cycle.

The tender for the new rights cycle was originally issued in late May, with the league holding private negotiations with three broadcasters – Sky, DAZN, and commercial network MediaForEurope (formerly Mediaset).

The tender invited broadcasters to bid for rights to three, four, or five seasons from 2024-25 and included eight packages with different configurations.

The option for five seasons came after Italian communications regulator AGCOM and antitrust body AGCM green-lighted Serie A’s plans to extend the maximum deal length from four to five campaigns.

The sale of Serie A’s international rights, meanwhile, began in August with a tender launched for rights across Germany, Australia, and Switzerland.

The deal adds to DAZN’s soccer rights portfolio which includes Spain’s top-tier LaLiga and Germany’s Bundesliga. It also offers wide coverage of women’s soccer including Italy’s Serie A Femminile, as well as competitions in Spain, Italy, the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Portugal, Belgium, Japan, and Austria.

Why it matters

The tender process to allocate domestic media rights for the next Serie A cycle had been dragging on for some months, with DAZN and Sky Italia reportedly increasing their bids to retain their deals last week.

The league was hoping for an increase in fees for the next cycle but has failed to do so in the current economic climate. However, Serie A’s chief executive Luigi De Siervo said the new deal’s value could rise above the current agreement and potentially hit €1 billion once several variable components, including revenue shares, are considered.

Conrad Wiacek, head of analysis and consulting at GlobalData Sport, said: “Not only has the league not increased the value of the rights, but it has also actually decreased from the last round of rights.

“In effect, this rights deal means that Italian football has severely overestimated its ability to secure premium rights deals, and also that the league is even further away from the [English] Premier League in terms of revenue.

“DAZN and Sky Italia will be delighted with the deal, which is now over five years as opposed to the previous three-year deal, (which was hoped would make the package more attractive). With consumers unable, and in some cases unwilling, to spend more on subscription packages, especially in a cost-of-living crisis, the broadcasters have reacted accordingly to demands for ever-increasing rights fees, a pattern not limited to Italy.

“The top-tier French Ligue 1 has also failed to secure any bids close to its valuation and henceforth scrapped its auction, while the Bundesliga is heading to market next year in the hope of increasing the value of its domestic deal, but this is by no means guaranteed.

“Meanwhile, the Premier League is currently inviting bids for its own domestic rights deal, although these are not expected to increase with the lack of competition in the market on the broadcast side (and on the pitch). Each league has one dominant team with seemingly no competition which makes the product far less attractive to viewers, while the changing habits of younger viewers mean that they are unlikely to be engaged over the full 90 minutes.

“In the UK, BT Sport has been taken over by Warner Brothers Discovery and rebranded to TNT Sports and is no longer aggressive in the rights market, and the likes of Amazon and Apple are not making much of a push into the sports rights market, especially in Europe.

“Many others will point to the declining quality of the product, with issues such as VAR and the drop in standards in refereeing as detracting from the quality of product across the board, regardless of league.

“Serie A, with two teams in the final four of last season’s Champions League, would have been hoping for a revival in fortunes for a league which in the 90s was widely viewed as the best in the world. Now, however, others will see Serie A as a cautionary tale, proof that dominance is not guaranteed and must be earned, not expected.”

Further reading

The Business of Serie A 2023-24

Serie A has boasted the slowest growth in domestic broadcasting rights in Europe’s Top Five Leagues