Sky Italia, the dominant Italian pay-TV operator, will broadcast European soccer’s UEFA club competitions exclusively on its platforms next season after choosing not to open it up to free-to-air coverage.

The broadcaster has opted against sub-licensing some matches to another broadcaster or even showing games on its own free-to-air TV8 channel in a move to boost its subscriber numbers.

It means matches from the elite UEFA Champions League, second-tier Europa League, and third-tier Conference League will only be shown on the linear Sky channels and Now streaming platform.

This comes after Sky recently announced a price increase in Italy of between €6.90 ($7.45) and €7.99 per month to a final price of between €22.90 and €26.90 per month. Meanwhile, the soccer-only package is rising from between €3 to €8 per month.

In May 2023, Sky acquired exclusive rights to broadcast 185 of the 203 Champions League matches per season, as well as all 342 Europa League and Europa Conference League fixtures for the next three-year period from 2024-25 to 2026-27.

The pay-TV operator will share Champions League rights with Amazon Prime Video, the streaming platform of the global tech and retail giant which will continue to show 18 top-pick Wednesday evening games.

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In the previous 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle, Sky held rights to show 121 of the 137 Champions League games per season, with commercial free-to-air broadcaster Mediaset holding exclusive live rights to the first-pick Champions League match on Tuesdays, as well as delayed coverage and highlights.

Sky also had exclusive linear and non-exclusive digital rights to the Europa League and Conference League but was subsequently banned from acquiring exclusive streaming rights to any content in Italy for three years, from 2019 through 2021 (inclusive).

The ban was put in place by the AGCM, Italy’s antitrust regulator, to maintain competition in the market after the broadcaster’s failed purchase of R2, the pay-TV services and technical platform of Mediaset Premium, the digital terrestrial TV service.

This ban allowed international streaming service DAZN to secure Europa League and Conference League rights in the previous cycle.

Despite Sky’s decision not to sub-license any rights next year, AGCOM, the Italian communications regulator, will enforce a rule that European club finals must be shown free-to-air should they feature an Italian team, as it did with this year’s Europa League final that Atalanta won.

The Bergamo-based side’s 3-0 win over Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen was shown by state broadcaster Rai and drew an audience of 6.3 million. It became the most-watched soccer match of the year in Italy with a combined total viewership of 7.98 million and a national market share of 36.1%, with the match also shown on Sky and DAZN.

Next season, eight Serie A clubs will feature in European competitions, with five in the Champions League – Inter Milan, AC Milan, Atalanta, Juventus, and Bologna. Roma and Lazio will compete in the Europa League, while Fiorentina will play in the Conference League.

The increase in Sky’s Champions League matches for the next deal corresponds to the new format of the competition starting next year. The number of participating teams will increase from 32 to 36, with each side in the initial group stages to play eight games, up from six.

As well as UEFA club rights, Sky holds domestic rights to Serie A and recently renewed its deal to show the English Premier League through 2027-28.