Telecom Italia (TIM) and Mediaset have struck a commercial agreement that will result in TIMVision customers having access to Mediaset’s free-to-air linear channels and associated seven-day catch-up services.
Under the terms of the deal, from January next year TIMVision subscribers will have access to online programming from Canale5, Italia1 and Retequattro, as well as the free-to-air themed channels La5, TGCom24, Mediaset Extra, 20, Iris, Italia2 and Top Crime, along with the Focus channel that Mediaset will launch in May.
“The agreement with Mediaset proves TIM’s commitment to strengthen its TIMVision offer, pursuing with determination our policy of creating alliances with the best players on the market. We are the new TV and we will continue to broaden our content offer. As well as major sporting events, exclusive premieres, films and TV series that are already available, we are now adding on-demand access to the standard programme scheduling. In doing this we are giving our customers a really easy way to watch their favourite programmes as and when they want,” said Daniela Biscarini, head of multimedia entertainment at TIM.
Mediaset said that the deal was positive for both partners, allowing Mediaset to extend the reach of its free channels to all platforms and enabling TIM to enhance the TIMVision offering.
The pair moved quickly to strike the deal following the defeat of Vivendi in its battle with hedge fund Elliott Advisors for control of the telco.
Mediaset and Vivendi have been engaged in a long-running legal battle over the latter’s decision to pull out of a 2016 deal to acquire the Italian broadcaster’s pay TV unit that is still ongoing. Despite that dispute, Vivendi had hoped to secure access to Mediaset content for a proposed joint venture between Telecom Italia and Canal+, but the JV plan failed to secure approval from TIM shareholders.
Mediaset’s deal with TIM follows an agreement with pay TV rival Sky that effectively put an end to speculation about a rapprochement with Vivendi. Mediaset and Sky agreed a deal whereby Sky will make nine cinema and TV series channels from Mediaset Premium available to its satellite customers at no additional charge, along with a raft of on-demand content from Warner, Universal and Medusa.
The reciprocal agreement will see Sky create a new digital-terrestrial pay TV offering of its own that will be made available to Italian DTT viewers via Mediaset’s transmission capacity. The Sky DTT offering will combine a selection of Sky and Fox’s channels along with Mediaset Premium’s channels.
Mediaset this week denied Italian press reports that it planned to effectively shut down its pay TV unit. The reports were based on speculation about the future of R2, a new company set up to house the technical platform activities of the pay TV unit that could potentially be sold to Sky later this year. Mediaset said that any sale of R2 would not mean discontinuing Mediaset Premium itself.