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Sky Italia secures Champions League rights as Mediaset mulls options

Sky Italia has secured the exclusive rights to European Champions League and Europa League football for the 2018-21 seasons, depriving pay TV competitor Mediaset of a key asset in premium football.

Sky said it would air over 340 matches from the two competitions. The company plans to air key matches in 4K UHD and HDR and will add interactive features with the launch of the Sky Q box in Italy next year.

The company said its investment was “rational and sustainable”, taking into account growing interest in the tournaments and the new format proposed by UEFA, which means that the number of matches aired in Italy will increase by 70% compared with the average over the last five years.

Rival provider Mediaset said that it had made a “rational” bid with a higher value than previously, taking into account the participation of four Italian teams in the Champions League.

Earlier last week, Mediaset said it would not participate in auction for Serie A rights, having raised the terms of the tender with the country’s competition authority.

Mediaset maintained that it would attempt to ensure fans had access to Serie A football. Its decision not to participate in the tender for Italian top-tier rights means that the auction for Serie A will need to be rerun to comply with antitrust rules, with Sky and Mediaset expected to compete.

The loss of Champions League rights means that Mediaset may now have more money to allocate to Serie A, enabling it to table a realistic bid for some of the rights. Sky has reported tabled about €500 million for Serie A rights. The Italian football league has set the goal of securing €1.4 billion, including international rights.