Back in my younger, more naive days, when I first discovered Serie A, life was easy. I didn’t have to worry about property assessments, whether or not I should buy organic eggs or how well my retirement account was doing. I just woke up, flipped on Fox Soccer Channel, and bam, there was live Serie A action on my television...yes, an actual television. But those days, much like my innocence, are long gone now, replaced by uncertainty, anxiety and the Barcelona Entertainment and Information Network, the bane of any Serie A fans existence.
Well, fear no more, Serie A has a new TV deal kicking in next season, one which stands to benefit the league as a whole and Roma especially.
An unexpected development came when the league accepted Spanish multimedia company Mediapro’s bid for the rights to Serie A for the next three years. There had been whispers of a bid for several weeks, and when it did arrive, it proved to be substantially higher than Sky Italia and Mediaset’s, and was promptly gobbled up by the league, unanimously voted in favour by the clubs.
As of writing the deal has yet to be rubberstamped (it has to go through the Antitrust Authority beforehand), but it signals a major shift away from old allegiances. Mediapro may’ve potentially broken the Sky/Mediaset duopoly that’s had a stranglehold over Serie A coverage since 2003.
The Catalan company are paying €1.05bn a season – the minimum target set by the league – and their bid was some €220m more than the combined Sky/Mediaset effort.
Mediaset, with all its financial troubles, refused to rise above the €200m mark. Sky meanwhile, thinking there were no other interested parties for the rights, low-balled the league with a ludicrously low €630m offer.
I suppose it’s ironic that calcio’s TV rights are in the hands of a Catalan company given that our biggest grip about beIN was that it was too intently focused on Barcelona, but that is nevertheless an interesting look into the bidding process.
Football Italia went on to list some changes Mediapro would make to Serie A production values:
Mediapro’s entry could prove to be a game changer for Serie A, an outsider bringing fresh ideas to the table. In fact, several provisions have already been made upon completion of the deal. Firstly, the grass on all pitches must be the same height and the density of green must be identical. Secondly, advertising boards around the pitch must have precise colours. And thirdly, and perhaps the most important stipulation, is that the sections of the stadium that are in direct line of the hard camera must be filled with spectators. If clubs fail to comply then they will be sanctioned, a process already in place in La Liga.
The grass must be the same height, density and shade of green? Wow. Not only is this a potential windfall for the clubs, but if you’re an Italian landscaping company, you must be grinning from ear to ear! I do like that third provision, though. How many times have we watched a match at the Olimpico only to be met by a sea of empty blue seats?
Now on to the good stuff, how much money will Roma get out of this deal?
Football financial website, Calcio e Finanza, broke down how the new TV deal will be structured. It combined the hypothetical domestic deal, in addition to the confirmed international rights (that garnered €1.1bn for the same three-year cycle), and what was revealing is that the biggest winners are the mid-table teams.
In a move to give the league some parity of competitiveness in the midst of the Juventus-dominant era, the slice of the TV pie that is to be split equally among the teams will rise to 50%, an increase of 10% from the current deal. The controversial ‘number of fans’ category has also been amended, as have others.
With an extra €300m pocketed on the current deal, Atalanta come out the biggest winners, gaining an extra €25m per season on the 2015-18 deal. Sampdoria (€24m), Genoa (€20m) and Torino (€17m) can all smile a little more also. The biggest losers are Italy’s biggest team, with Juventus losing €17m between the deals. Inter (€9m), Roma (€11m), Lazio and Napoli (both €17m) all benefit.
While Roma aren’t making out quite as well as Atalanta and Sampdoria, €11 million extra is certainly nothing to sneeze at, though the article doesn’t make any connections to FFP concerns. Broadly speaking, giving that extra injection of cash to clubs like Atalanta and Samp, clubs who are already broaching on top five/six status will be a boon to league parity. Plus, you know, Juve is losing €17 million, so, win-win.
So, how will this new deal affect our North American readers?
Mediapro also plan to diversify the way their coverage of Serie A is viewed, hoping to strike deals with telecommunication giants TIM and tech companies like Amazon and Perform to stream matches.
Assuming that these matches would be available to Prime members in North America, this could be MASSIVE. Rather than relying on dodgy streams, you could watch Roma on the same platform through which you order laundry detergent and, you know, everything else.
For much, much more on this deal, check out this fanpost.