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Serie A receives lucrative new television distribution deal

Mediapro invest heavily towards increasing exposure for Italian league

FIGC Open Day In Coverciano Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Goodbye Sky, hello Mediapro.

From the people who brought you the revolutionary television distribution rights of Spain’s La Liga, come Mediapro!

The company from Catalan are rumored to have bid somewhere in the ballpark of €1.1 billion for the rights to distribution. Over the last few months, rumors were pouring in regarding a bid for the Italian league’s media rights, yet Sky and Mediaset seemed unmoved in their continuation bid of €830 million. Sky and Mediaset never really considered Mediapro a real force, until it was too late. Luca Lotti announced earlier that the Catalan bid, which exceeded Sky’s by €230m, has been accepted, and will commence next season. There is some court proceedings and Antitrust Authority approval needed first, but that is largely considered a formality.

Sky/Mediaset have held Serie A hostage over their television rights since 2003, with profits plummeting over recent years. Part of Mediapro’s bid promised to reverse that trend, not only through distribution, but to also change the landscape of how Serie A is viewed around the globe.

Presentation is everything and as they have done with La Liga, Mediapro will be holding Serie A teams accountable for the following action items throughout the season:

  • The grass on all pitches will be the same height, and density, and must be of the same color.
  • Every seat that is within view of the ‘hard’ television camera during the match, must be filled, or the home team is subject to penalties. We’re assuming that means deductions from their yearly television payout.
  • Lastly, every advertising board must be in plain site around the pitch and should have precise and uniform colors.
  • There will now be eight slots for matches, as opposed to the current set up which sees five. The idea is simple enough, less competing matches, more exposure.

Perhaps my favorite part of this new deal is the incentive for teams to finish the season strong. Those teams that are not in fear of relegation, but sit mid-table, will receive extra compensation for their final position. The distribution of wealth from the top of the table to the bottom will be changed from a 4:1 ratio, to a 3:1, giving more money to the smaller and medium sized clubs. This is absolutely the biggest game changer for the new deal. Much like we’ve seen in the Premier League as of late, clubs that don’t have access to deep pockets will be able to be more competitive during the transfer market.

How will this play out for Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan, we don’t really know yet. It depends on many factors, most important of which, where they finish in the table when the dust settles. For fans outside of Italy, this will mean more exposure and opportunity to watch matches... legally. Much like La Liga, Serie A might be able to be seen on multiple of platforms, one of which could be Amazon, who are rumored to be entering the sporting landscape.

Read Luca Lotti’s full statement below.

From next season, the quota to be divided in equal parts is raised from 40 per cent to 50 per cent and the remaining sum will be assigned based on clear criteria that can be accurately measured,” wrote Lotti.

It is a reform that represents an epoch-changing point for football in our country, not just because it gives importance to the number of points earned per season, which means there will no longer be futile fixtures at the end of the season.

It will also allow us to close the historic gap that has been created between the leaders of the pack and the so-called small clubs, bringing Serie A closer to the style of the Premier League or Bundesliga.

It is expected that thanks to this modification, the so-called ‘first to last’ split will be reduced from the current 4:1 to a more equitable 3:1.

To explain in a few simple words, we’ll have a more balanced and therefore interesting League. We have done our part. With this law and the new norms to favour the construction of stadiums, I hope now that the governance of the Lega Serie A and Federation will work for a new start to our football.”