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Serie A chief lobbies for longer domestic rights cycle to attract new bidders

In a wide-ranging interview with Italian media outlet Il Sole 24 Ore, the CEO of Italy’s top football league Serie A, Luigi De Servio, has urged the Italian government to lift restrictions which prevent it from licensing its domestic live TV rights for periods greater than three years.

Luigi De Servio

De Servio told the publication that extending the period on offer to five years could entice new rights bidders into the market. He said it was “essential” for operators to be able to plan their investment.

The government recently agreed to lift a similar restriction on Serie A’s international rights, which are due to come up for renewal in the near future. The league, which has lagged behind some other sports leagues in terms of revenue, is aiming to triple its international broadcast revenue between now and 2030.

Italian Serie A rights are currently controlled by DAZN and Sky until 2023/24, with the former holding the largest share of games. However De Servio may be looking at developments across other soccer leagues, where big tech players including Amazon and Apple have acquired rights packages. There’s also a possibility that the new wave of Hollywood-backed streamers, notably Disney+, might be attracted to Serie A if a longer period of rights was made available by the league.

One factor that could limit the amount of revenue Serie A is able to generate during the next rights cycle is piracy. Speaking to Il Sole 24 Ore, De Servio identified piracy as major issue for the league. He said: “If we fail to take serious action, our future and that of the entire audiovisual industry risks being seriously compromised.”

De Servio has had a fiery relationship with Italian politicians since he took over Serie A in 2018. Last year he accused the government at the time of “hating football” because of its lack of support for the sport during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tags: DAZN, Italy, Serie A, Sky

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