Italian Serie A clubs have this month voted to pass the resolution that agrees to a new 4.5 billion Euro deal for broadcasting rights from both DAZN and Sky, and the new deal will come into place from the beginning of the 2024/24 campaign and is set to run until the end of the 2028/29 season.
A whopping 17 of the 20 top flight clubs were on board with this though, and there has been huge disapproval aired after the agreement was made, as the Italian Football Federation (amongst others) were holding out for a deal worth in the region of 7.3 billion Euros to extend their domestic rights for a further five season’s.
Countering those complaints, Serie A representatives have stated that the new deal at the very minimum matches, if not slightly exceeds, the value of current contracts when variables are included, but some remain unconvinced.
The breakdown of the details seem to be that DAZN are guaranteeing a minimum 700 million Euros per season, with Sky chipping in with the further 200 million Euros at minimum. DAZN will however exclusively screen seven Serie A games each week (266 out of 380 a season), with the remainder screened between DAZN and Sky (114 games).
As a comparison for fans who want to do their own sums, DAZN’s existing (2021-2024) deal is worth 2.5 billion Euros, with Sky’s being worth 262.5 million Euros over three years.
Despite the claims of matching, or slightly better revenues, La Repubblica has suggested clubs will earn less than the 900 million Euros in the opening two years, with improvements seen in the later period of the contract – but as part of the DAZN deal, there is a reported uncapped ‘without maximum ceiling’ revenue sharing agreement in place that will see clubs directly entitled to potentially additional revenue sharing based on criteria such as subscriber growth.
Bloomberg have proffered this could be an additional one billion Euros over the five year period.
Not one to shy from conflict, Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis, was one of the first to come out against the deal, arguing that the Italian game has again missed an opportunity to position itself as a ‘direct to consumer (DTC)’ business, in charge of its own fate.
“It’s a total defeat for Italian football, these deals will be the death of Italian football. The problem is being a borrower or an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur must know how to measure the risk area, it is more convenient but this will never implement the value of Italian football. The value of Italian football comes through investment. Italian football always thinks it needs to be supported by others, but the fans are the absolute asset of a football club. My relationship must be direct with the fan, not direct with Sky and DAZN – who in my opinion are not competent.”
He qualified his statement and accusation by adding.
“Because when I sell a package in which I find cinema, Champions League, Italian football, TV series and entertainment, or DAZN which sells Italian football and other sports, I will never understand the true value of Italian football. My teammates in the league love to be passively operational in the system. I, who have never played passively, hate operating in this way. Then there is the stupidity of making an agreement for five years. In times of crisis, cinema and football are two things that are very strong, they are a panacea for the pain of everyday life but we have put this dream in the drawer. Sky and DAZN don’t make these big investments.”
His claims about DTC were completely rebuffed by Serie A representatives who pointed out that ongoing research showed that the numbers were just not there on a financial footing, and if Pay TV was the only revenue at this point and the idea was chased, it would result in far lower revenue right now compared to existing contracts.
It was not ruled out in the future, it just was not right for now.
Many Italian fans will appreciate the drive to not ask them to pay for games they simply will not watch, and De Laurentiis will find support on that front, but I can’t think of a domestic European division that finds themselves in that negotiating point (strongly), just yet, and with 17 Serie A members voting in approval – it kind of proves that point.