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Sky complains to Serie A over DAZN bid, raises concerns over TIM deal

Sky Italia has complained to Serie A over DAZN’s bid for the top flight football league’s rights.

The operator has sent a letter to the league organisers, in which it complains that an established deal between TIM and DAZN would harm competition. The partnership, confirmed this week by TIM, will see the company serve as the reference telephone and pay TV operator for DAZN content in Italy as well as its technological partner. More importantly for Sky, this will include DAZN’s full catalogue of live and on demand sports content – should DAZN win the rights.

DAZN is currently the front runner for the largest rights package with an offer on the table believed to be worth around €850 million. The reports this week which preceded TIM’s announcement, claimed that the operator would cover more than 40% of the yearly payments for the rights.

Sky has formally objected to TIM’s apparent preferential treatment in regards to the distribution of DAZN’s content. The letter, seen by Reuters, stated: “Such a distribution accord may potentially generate competition issues. In the interest of millions of Italian football fans, we believe it’s extremely important Serie A matches are distributed across all platforms and the broadest number of devices possible.”

Sky is an influential player in the Italian market, and previously succeeded in convincing Serie A to go back on its decision to award rights to Mediapro in 2018.

DAZN has responded to the letter, with a statement which read: “First of all, it is stressed that the possible acquisition by DAZN of the Serie A TV rights for the next three seasons would represent an important opportunity for the expansion of the pay TV market, and would also be an opportunity to accelerate the process of digitization and modernization of the whole Country.  

“Finally, the concerns expressed about a penalization of football fans who – it is said – would no longer be guaranteed a plurality of vision, seems peculiar to say the least, considering that the soccer market has historically always been characterized by a dominant player, and this also emerged from recent AGCM rulings.”

It remains to be seen whether these objections from Sky late in the day will succeed in derailing DAZN’s play to become Serie A’s primary domestic rights holder. The league will meet today to discuss the rights tender.