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Monday February 19 2018
TV rights transform Serie A

Serie A is set to be transformed by the new TV rights deal and Juventus will be the biggest losers, writes Emmet Gates.

It looks as if 2018-19 really will be a game-changer in Serie A. Not only have they got four automatic places in the Champions League, they’ll also begin benefiting from the new TV rights deal that substantially shifts the power structure between big and mid-table clubs.

An unexpected development came when the league accepted Spanish multimedia company Mediapro’s bid for the rights to Serie A for the next three years. There had been whispers of a bid for several weeks, and when it did arrive, it proved to be substantially higher than Sky Italia and Mediaset’s, and was promptly gobbled up by the league, unanimously voted in favour by the clubs.

As of writing the deal has yet to be rubberstamped (it has to go through the Antitrust Authority beforehand), but it signals a major shift away from old allegiances. Mediapro may’ve potentially broken the Sky/Mediaset duopoly that’s had a stranglehold over Serie A coverage since 2003.

The Catalan company are paying €1.05bn a season – the minimum target set by the league – and their bid was some €220m more than the combined Sky/Mediaset effort.

Mediaset, with all its financial troubles, refused to rise above the €200m mark. Sky meanwhile, thinking there were no other interested parties for the rights, low-balled the league with a ludicrously low €630m offer.

As the news seeped through, Sky, like a jilted lover, pleaded with the league not to accept the Mediapro offer, deeming it ‘inadmissible’. Sky’s fear is that by snapping up all the exclusive rights, Mediapro would create a dedicated Serie A channel with the sole intention of broadcasting games. However, part of the Melangri law in Italy forbids any broadcaster from gaining exclusivity of TV rights.

Once Mediapro stated they would be acting as intermediaries and not producers of their newly acquired content, Sky noticeably changed their tune and proclaimed they would be open to negotiating.

Mediapro’s entry could prove to be a game changer for Serie A, an outsider bringing fresh ideas to the table. In fact, several provisions have already been made upon completion of the deal. Firstly, the grass on all pitches must be the same height and the density of green must be identical. Secondly, advertising boards around the pitch must have precise colours. And thirdly, and perhaps the most important stipulation, is that the sections of the stadium that are in direct line of the hard camera must be filled with spectators. If clubs fail to comply then they will be sanctioned, a process already in place in La Liga.

Presentation is an issue that has dogged televisual coverage of Serie A for years, and by inserting the aforementioned conditions into the deal, Mediapro are clearly aware of this. They’ve done their homework.  “We believe that profits (for Serie A in recent years) have diminished, we are here to reverse this trend,” said Tatxo Benet, one of the founders of Mediapro.

Football financial website, Calcio e Finanza, broke down how the new TV deal will be structured. It combined the hypothetical domestic deal, in addition to the confirmed international rights (that garnered €1.1bn for the same three-year cycle), and what was revealing is that the biggest winners are the mid-table teams.

In a move to give the league some parity of competitiveness in the midst of the Juventus-dominant era, the slice of the TV pie that is to be split equally among the teams will rise to 50%, an increase of 10% from the current deal. The controversial ‘number of fans’ category has also been amended, as have others.

With an extra €300m pocketed on the current deal, Atalanta come out the biggest winners, gaining an extra €25m per season on the 2015-18 deal. Sampdoria (€24m), Genoa (€20m) and Torino (€17m) can all smile a little more also. The biggest losers are Italy’s biggest team, with Juventus losing €17m between the deals. Inter (€9m), Roma (€11m), Lazio and Napoli (both €17m) all benefit.

Mediapro clearly believe there is untapped potential in Serie A and a feeling they can emulate what they’ve done for the value of La Liga and double its revenue inside several years. From next season, there will be eight different kick-off slots as opposed to the current five, in an effort to maximise viewing figures. This strategy is also implemented in La Liga.

In a depressing stat for traditionalists, there will only be three 15:00 Sunday games. It wouldn’t be surprising to see several of the biggest games pushed to an earlier slot, for example the new Saturday 15:00 kick off, to appease the mythical Asian market. This is even more likely after a Chinese company promptly bought out a majority share in Mediapro just days after they had clinched the Serie A rights. There’s no such thing as a coincidence in business.

Mediapro also plan to diversify the way their coverage of Serie A is viewed, hoping to strike deals with telecommunication giants TIM and tech companies like Amazon and Perform to stream matches.

The Antitrust Authority’s response to the deal should be announced within the next six weeks. If the green light is given, then it really will be the start of year zero for calcio.

Have your say...
Higher revenues= higher player salaries = attract players

This article is missing a graph showing the amount of tv income each team would receive from the new deal. The gap between Juve tv income and others could still be massive.
Asian markets remain untapped due to the late Sunday kickoffs as the 3:45 AM times on Sunday nights (Monday mornings) are not frequently watched. Many of these games happen to be really big games which would have garnered a lot more viewers had they been on Saturdays.
on the 25th February, 2018 at 7:59am
Emmett with another excellent article you and Giancarlo have become the leaders of this site.
on the 21st February, 2018 at 7:30pm
At last, some of the middle and smaller teams getting more share of the TV Rights pie, especially when one of my favorite clubs is benefiting.

Now all we need is for one of the free UK Channel to negotiate for the right to show games, but, cant see this happening any time soon.
on the 21st February, 2018 at 10:23am
The Stadiums would have been rebuilt if Platini hadn't taken away the European Tournament from a hopeful Italy.

Still there are several ways to improve things in Italian Football........
on the 20th February, 2018 at 11:28pm
Italy need foreigners to lift an old man. Most clubs are in dire need of new stadiums. No bigger than 20.000-55.000. And they need to be at least 3/4 full.
on the 20th February, 2018 at 7:34pm
Not surprising, it takes foreigners to bring new, fresh ideas... Italy rarely solves it's own problems... I can't believe they didn't already have a uniform turf policy.. Serie A is stuck in the 80s still. New ownership groups and new media companies will hopefully help modernize things
on the 20th February, 2018 at 12:34pm
Why is it "the mythical Asian market"?
Serie A is still popular in Asia. What are you talking about?

Anyway, this is a step in the right direction but hardly a transformation. Italy needs much more than that. They couldn't even elect an FIGC president yet. The low attendance is saddening and I doubt this TV deal will fix that.
Then you have the ageing stadiums. The incompetent club owners. The victim mentality some clubs have.

We got a long way to go.
on the 20th February, 2018 at 12:29pm
@forza milan sam fair point even so you are antagonizing the trolls
on the 20th February, 2018 at 9:53am
Seriously.How are you going to fill that side of Roma/Lazio and Napoli's stadiums.
on the 20th February, 2018 at 9:49am
You can be sure any extra money will go on new players and higher wages.Stadiums will not be improved and ticket prices will not be reduced.
on the 20th February, 2018 at 9:48am
EIGHT kick off times????!!!!! WTF !!!
on the 20th February, 2018 at 9:47am
It is great news for Serie A fans worldwide that changes are coming for Serie A broadcasts. I am very happy we will be able to watch more live matches with 8 different kick off times. I am very hopefull teams will improve stadiums and may we never see another athletic track ever again in Italian football.
on the 20th February, 2018 at 4:39am
It's no Year Zero, but it represents a welcomed change.
Doesn't look like Italy is capable of starting from Year Zero. Everyone seems to want to operate a decade behind the rest of Europe.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 8:40pm
Juve's revenues are large. 17 Million lose of TV revenue is fine, since other teams wîth important projects will get a financial boost. Only a positive here for the league.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 7:03pm
@Forza Milan Sam - Milan owes Juventus for the 4th CL spot you are hoping to reach this season, that just for starters. if Juventus wasn't scapegoated in 06. maybe Milan would have actually gotten punished for their part in the whole thing as well insted of just getting a slap on the wrist and you know that if Juventus wasn't a part of that deal the TV rights for Serie A would be worth 500 million instead of 1 billion so you're welcome for your budget as well i guess. Juventus = Serie A
on the 19th February, 2018 at 4:17pm
Would be a great start of re-launching Serie A. Extra funds for clubs will hopefully be used to invest in new/improved stadia. Now hope for the league to make some real efforts in improving youth academies - a B-team league would do a lot to get youth game time and a real chance to show their value.

I can only hope it doesn't affect only Juve negatively. But we need the relaunch of Serie A, Italy is too far behind on Spain, Germany and England.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 4:13pm
Sky italia is probably one of the best packages around for consumers in terms of content for the price you pay even so they have run the viewing figures into the ground.

With inflation in terms of transfer fee and wages i do wonder if the likes of genoa samp and atalanta will really benefit from the increased stream of revenue.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 3:19pm
Haha Hasan! That was a joke right???? What does anyone owe Juventus?
on the 19th February, 2018 at 3:07pm
Should not change much in terms of Juventus. In the last year our revenues have increased with € 25.8 million. Our total revenues from 2016/17 is €550m. Compare that to our 2010/11 season where it was €172m.
Our revenues have been steadily increased by €25-70m each season since 2010

Link: http://www.juventus.com/en/club/investor-relations/financial-reports/sta...
on the 19th February, 2018 at 3:04pm
It should be compulsory that a large percentage of the extra TV money goes into building/renovating new stadiums and youth academies.

It'll be difficult for the sections of the stadium that are in line of the camera to be filled with spectators, due to the dominance of the Curvas and the poor view by the athletics tracks.

As it stands Italian football is 25 years behind the rest of Europe, the changes mentioned are a minor improvement but it'll take fundamental change to improve the spectacle.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 2:51pm
This may well be a much needed change for the league and bring it back to its once former status. All Serie A teams must have satisfactory grass on pitches just like the EPL, no excuses.

The sharing of the pot between lower tabled teams is the best news of all. This promotes growth and diversity of competition within the league.

Hopefully, things will look up with this new move by MediaPro.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 2:03pm
If Juve lose that amount of money then they won't be able to buy comical Inter own goals in the future. I real loss for the blooper reels.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 2:00pm
It should help, although most of the extra money will probably go on wages. That's often a good thing, as the better players will stay longer, but it can leave clubs stuck with wasters (ala epl) on big salaries.

Atalanta getting an extra 75m for 3 years should help their academies too.

Juve being shorn of 51m over 3 years might not be a bad thing either, though it may hurt Itlay's only real hope in the CL in the short term at least.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 11:06am
Does anyone know if BT are keeping the Serie A rights next year (and beyond)?
on the 19th February, 2018 at 9:14am
Yes, it's a very good improvement, especially if Amazon will stream competitive top of the table matches.
The more games the great world public at large can watch, the better for Serie A.

And a welcome reward for progressive Clubs like Atalanta and Sampdoria, also for improving Torino.

Might open the doors to many promising young players to discover Serie A and join Academies.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 9:09am
The future is bright! FORZA INTER
on the 19th February, 2018 at 9:02am
Great but shame about Spanish teaching Italians about football. Again.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 7:06am
Juventus has done a lot for Italy already. It is time for Italy to return the favor or let them be.
on the 19th February, 2018 at 5:28am

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