It seems that Serie A – Italy’s top-flight soccer competition – will have a new home from this fall, at least in the United States.
CBS Sports has secured exclusive rights to broadcast Serie A, Coppa Italia, and Supercoppa Italiana matches for the next three years, the Serie A announced last Thursday.
The financial terms of the deal were not made public, but according to Italian soccer finance website Calcio & Finanza, the agreement is worth $75.8 million a year, meaning the league will receive close to $236 million for 2021-2024 period.
After several years of the games being hosted by ESPN, CBS Sports will begin coverage in August with the start of the 2021/2022 Serie A season.
“Showcasing this historic league and some of the world’s biggest clubs is a tremendous opportunity to further grow the sport in the U.S. by delivering first-class coverage to a dedicated and passionate audience,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, Executive Vice President & General Manager, CBS Sports Digital.
CBS Sports – part of the ViacomCBS group – will show the matches on its streaming service Paramount+ and adds Italian Calcio to its growing soccer portfolio, which includes also broadcasting rights to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, as well as Argentina’s Liga Profesional de Futbol and Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro.
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“Today is not a point of arrival, but rather the beginning of a path of investment in human resources and editorial content functional to support the constant growth of Serie A throughout North America,” said Lega Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo.
The deal comes as a result of the ever-increasing expansion of American properties that decided to invest in Italian soccer.
Six Serie A clubs – AC Milan, AS Roma, Fiorentina, Parma, Spezia, and Bologna – have North American owners.
De Siervo also thanked Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso for “his important contribution to achieving this agreement,” claiming Mediacom CEO played a role in establishing a more lucrative contract for Italian soccer in the United States.
“In a strategic area like the U.S. we have increased the value of our rights by more than 30%,” highlighted De Siervo, comparing the deal to the previous contract which was made through IMG.
The New-York based agency managed to secure the whole Serie A international TV rights bundle for the 2018-2021 period in a deal originally worth $377 million per season, according to a 2017/2018 KPMG report on the broadcasting revenue landscape.
However, given IMG resold the broadcasting rights on a country-by-country basis, it is impossible to check whether De Siervo’s estimate is accurate.
What is indeed sure is that when it comes to broadcasting rights, Italian soccer has a long way to bridge the revenue gap with the most-watched sports league in the world, the English Premier League.
In 2015 NBC secured a six-year package by paying a whopping $1,3 billion – an average of more than $200 million per season – against the $75 of the Serie A.
While the deal is surely a great step in the right direction, a league that features Juventus talisman Cristiano Ronaldo – one of the biggest soccer world star with more than 500 million followers across social media – should be getting way more, especially in a lucrative market like the United States.
Meanwhile, after months of negotiation, on Friday the Serie A teams finally accepted a $2,65 billion bid to sell the domestic broadcasting rights to DAZN, Italian daily La Repubblica reported.
The sports streaming service owned by billionaire Leonard Blavatnik managed to secure seven out of ten fixtures per match day for the next three seasons.