Italian soccer’s top-flight Serie A has finally landed a new broadcast rights partner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) after agreeing a three-year deal with Abu Dhabi Media, the media and entertainment organization.

The agreement will begin with the upcoming 2022-23 season and run until 2024-25.

The contract will be worth a total of €79 million ($82.6 million) – €23 million in the first season, €25 million in the second, and €31 million in the third.

The 20 Serie A clubs voted on the ADM offer, with 16 voting in favor of accepting the proposal.

ADM was in a two-way tussle with BeIN Sports for the leaue’s rights but ultimately secured the deal after the Qatar-based international pay-TV broadcaster withdrew its offer yesterday.

BeIN had submitted the larger bid but grew frustrated after being continuously asked to increase its offer. The broadcaster eventually decided to withdraw from the proceedings as it felt it was no longer worth pursuing a deal.

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That paved the way for ADM to conclude an agreement and the league officially announced a three-year partnership with the United Arab Emirates-based company.

Lorenzo Casini, Serie A president, said: “Abu Dhabi Media has acquired Serie A TV rights for the next three years. It was essential to change the Melandri law on foreign rights, because we had time limits that limited offers.

“There have never been tensions, after a long time BeIN has decided to enter into the negotiations that went on with Abu Dhabi by proposing a new offer but there were doubts in committing itself for a period of more than three years in that area.” 

Serie A is now permitted to sell international broadcast rights for more than three seasons after Italy’s council of ministers recently approved changes to the Melandri Law, the set of regulations brought in 14 years ago which governs how overseas rights to the league are sold.

For the last decade, there has been a three-year time limit imposed on the rights cycles for international Serie A coverage, meaning the league cannot go longer than three years without having to re-tender in any territory.

Initially, ADM submitted a joint offer with streaming platform Starzplay in May for the league’s broadcast rights for five seasons. It is unclear if Starzplay is involved in the deal.

That proposal was understood to be worth a total of €140 million. 

Serie A has not had a permanent broadcast partner in MENA since its three-year deal with BeIN expired at the end of the 2020-21 season.

BeIN paid a total of €336 million for that contract, which represented Serie A’s most lucrative international rights deal.

The Qatar-based broadcaster chose not to renew that agreement as it was said to be annoyed with Serie A's decision to tender the rights in individual markets, rather than solely pressing ahead with a pan-MENA deal.

BeIN was also at loggerheads with Serie A over its relationship with Saudi Arabia – which has staged Supercoppa Italian games in recent years.

BeIN's business has been heavily impacted by the Saudi Arabian pirate network beoutQ that the Saudi state has been accused of allowing to operate.

However, last October, Saudi ended its ban of BeIN sports in the country as relations improved with Qatar, which opened the door for the broadcaster to renew its partnership with Serie A.

The Italian top-flight failed to secure a broadcast deal in the MENA region for the 2021-22 season and ended up showing games on YouTube through a short-term partnership with the Google-owned video streaming giant.

The YouTube deal was initially supposed to act as a placeholder as the league continued talks with interested broadcasters in the region, but it was announced in February that the agreement would run for the entire season.

The top Italian league is said to have missed out on a potential €110 million in income last year with no rights deal in MENA.

MENA was the only major international region in which Serie A had failed to award rights for its new broadcast cycle, after fruitlessly conducting negotiations in-house during the early part of last year.

As well as Serie A, ADM is believed to be keen on a deal to secure rights to the Supercoppa Italiana, while Abu Dhabi is also eyeing a hosting agreement to stage the competition that is traditionally contested by the league and cup winners.

Saudi Arabia has already exercised its option to host the competition next season as part of its three-year contract with the league.

The country staged two editions of the Supercoppa in 2019 but the 2020 and 2021 versions took place in Italy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The next edition will be the last in Saudi under the terms of the contract but the country is understood to be keen on securing a renewed hosting deal and will seemingly have to compete with Abu Dhabi to do so.

Earlier this year, ADM struck a deal with Serie A to show the latter stages of last season’s Coppa Italia knockout cup competition in the Middle East.

As well as its home in the United Arab Emirates, ADM operates in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, and Oman.