Serie A postpones rights vote as court set to rule on Sky appeal
Italian soccer’s Serie A has postponed a vote regarding Sky Italia’s latest offer for its final package of domestic live rights amid a legal case involving the pay-television operator.
Sky is understood to be the only broadcaster to have submitted a bid for the co-exclusive rights package ahead of this morning’s deadline and a decision was expected to be reached by the league today after the two parties entered into private negotiations over a deal.
However, after an assembly with its 20 clubs, at which they were set to vote on the Sky proposal, Serie A opted to postpone it to continue to assess the market and await a court verdict after the broadcaster filed an appeal against the league’s decision to award the lion’s share of its domestic rights to OTT subscription platform DAZN in late-March.
In an attempt to block DAZN’s three-year deal, Sky recently filed an urgent appeal with the Court of Milan over what it perceives as a disproportionate distribution of audiovisual packages by the league.
The appeal was heard today and a ruling is expected to be made in the coming days.
DAZN beat off incumbent Serie A rights-holder Sky to land the main packages of rights to the top Italian soccer league from 2021-22 to 2023-24.
The agreement is worth €2.5 billion ($3 billion) and means DAZN can show live all matches from Serie A for the next three seasons, with exclusive rights to seven of the 10 in each round of fixtures.
Sky is refusing to back down and accept defeat and claims that Serie A’s agreement with DAZN violated the so-called no single buyer rule as part of the country’s Melandri Law which prohibits a single operator "from acquiring all packages relating to live broadcasts exclusively".
The Comcast-owned broadcaster has also accused the league of issuing unbalanced rights packages, claiming that Package 1 (10 games) is significantly more attractive than the others on offer and thus gives an unfair advantage to DAZN in the market.
Sky previously had an offer rejected for Package 2 comprising co-exclusive rights to three matches per round after making a proposal to pay €75 million for the first season, €87.5 million for the second season and €100 million for the third season.
On that occasion, it did not receive the necessary 14 votes from the clubs, and will await the result of a second vote in the next few days.
Serie A put Package 2 of its tender back on the market recently and lowered its asking price from €250 million per season to €150 million per season.