Italian soccer’s top-tier Serie A has selected national radio station RDS to develop its official radio channel for three seasons.

The contract covers the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign, 2023-24, and 2024-25.

RDS was confirmed as the league’s partner at a general assembly meeting with all 20 clubs yesterday (April 24).

Serie A issued an invitation to tender (ITT) to select a company to create its official radio channel in December, with a deadline of January 31 set for companies to present non-binding expressions of interest (EOI) in the initial stage.

This was followed by a second phase where official bids were submitted before private negotiations took place in the third phase.

The new channel, which will be distributed on DAB radio, web radio, web-TV, mobile app, and the official Serie A website, will feature:

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  • Daily programming for each day of the week (24/7) focused on competitions
  • Live content, reruns, and podcasts
  • Broadcasting of reruns and podcasts
  • Creation of broadcasts dedicated to the various Italian competitions
  • Creation of specials dedicated to Serie A events
  • News
  • Creation of podcasts dedicated to Serie A
  • Insights on the activities of Serie A
  • Highlights

The contract will run until June 30, 2025, but the league will have the right to negotiate a renewal for another two seasons if minimum revenue targets are achieved.

At the general assembly, Serie A also discussed its next domestic media rights tender and announced that the packages to be offered will be finalized on May 5 and issued in the middle of next month.

The league and clubs analyzed the regulatory framework of the next tender, drawn up by the Television Rights Commission in its meetings over the last few months.

For the first time, domestic broadcast rights to the top Italian league will be on offer for up to five seasons after AGCOM, the Italian communications regulator, recently gave the green light for lengthier deals in the next cycle.

The authority recently approved the guidelines governing the marketing of the league’s media rights for the five seasons from 2024-25 to 2028-29.

A switch to five-year deals would make the Serie A domestic rights situation fall in line with overseas rights regulations. Last May, the Italian government changed the law, bringing up the maximum length of the agreement to a half-decade.

Rights in the current 2021-24 period are held by international sports subscription platform DAZN and pay-TV heavyweight Sky Italia.

The amendments would mean the two could theoretically extend their rights until the end of the 2028-29 season.

DAZN presently has exclusive rights to show seven games per week and co-exclusive rights to air the remaining three matches along with Sky.

The platform’s contract is worth a total of €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion).

In other developments emerging from the assembly, Serie A has reportedly shortlisted six financial companies as it seeks an advisor to study financing proposals by private equity firms and banks.

According to Italian outlet Calcio e Finanza, Goldman Sachs, Lazards, Morgan Stanley, Rothschild, and CenterView Partners are among the firms being considered.

Serie A clubs are expected to select one of the companies at the next meeting on May 5.

Several private equity groups have expressed an interest in acquiring a stake in the Italian’s top-flight’s media business.

It was recently reported by Reuters that US firm Oaktree Capital Management had made an offer to invest €1.75 billion for a 5% share in a venture managing the league’s media arm.

Other interested groups include Apax Partners, Three Hills Capital Partners, Carlyle Group, Searchlight, Apollo, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan.

In early 2021, Serie A failed to close a deal with CVC Capital Partners that was well advanced.

In November 2020, a consortium led by CVC had agreed to invest in a media company of Serie A and the top-flight clubs initially voted unanimously in favor of it.

However, seven teams, including giants Inter Milan and Juventus, subsequently performed a U-turn and killed the agreement several months later.

Under the agreement, CVC was to hold 50% of the consortium’s 10% stake in the media business, Advent International 40%, and Italian state-backed fund FSI 10%.

The proposed investment from the consortium required the support of at least 14 of the 20 Serie A clubs to proceed and was never signed off.

CVC quickly shifted its focus to other major European leagues and has struck deals with both France’s Ligue 1 and Spain’s LaLiga for stakes in their media rights businesses over the last two years, as those competitions seek to boost revenue in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Image: Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Image