Monday, 01 March 2021

TIM backs streamer DAZN in battle with Sky for Serie A rights

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 22 February 21

According to sources, the operator is willing to pay a minimum of 40% of the annual fee DAZN will owe Serie A if it wins the rights

For weeks now, streaming service DAZN and Comcast’s Sky Italia have been in a bidding war for the broadcasting rights to Italy’s Serie A football matches over the 2021–2024 seasons.   Currently, DAZN is offering around €850 million per season, while Sky’s last bid was for €850 million. Neither of these bids…

For weeks now, streaming service DAZN and Comcast’s Sky Italia have been in a bidding war for the broadcasting rights to Italy’s Serie A football matches over the 2021–2024 seasons.
 
Currently, DAZN is offering around €850 million per season, while Sky’s last bid was for €850 million. Neither of these bids, however, match the €1.15 billion that Serie A was hoping to raise. 
 
Now, anonymous sources speaking to Bloomberg have revealed that Italy’s incumbent operator TIM stands ready to back the streaming platform’s bid. According to the reports, TIM last month agreed a possible plan with DAZN that would see them “provide distribution and technological support as well as financing of about 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for its bid to broadcast the next three seasons of Italy’s Serie A league”.
 
A confidential letter sent to Serie A by DAZN reportedly says the company’s partner (widely inferred to be TIM) “is committed to the payment of an annual guaranteed minimum equal to more than 40% of the annual total amount due to Serie A.” This represents backing of around 40% of DAZN’s bid and would see TIM pay around €340 million per year.
 
DAZN will surely welcome the support from TIM, having made a loss of around $2 billion last year, being outfought by the likes of Netflix and Amazon in key markets in the US and Latin America. Italy, however, remains an area with significant potential for growth for streaming, since the market currently remains primarily focussed on more conventional broadcasting by the likes of Mediaset. Couple this with the nation's deeprooted love of football and the match up between DAZN and Serie A seems like a natural move.
 
But the decision for Serie A rests on more than just who has made the largest offer. Indeed, part of the concern here is that awarding the contract to DAZN will mean that the matches will require a reliable internet connection to stream effectively. Sky, naturally, would not have this same problem.
 
Perhaps, this is part of the motivation for the partnership with TIM. The operator is rapidly improving connectivity across the country and will be able to bundle the football with various connectivity packages. Nonetheless, the partnership has not yet been confirmed and sources suggest that TIM could still withdraw.
 
 
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