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Serie A international rights snapped up by Infront for “€139m a year”

Marketing agency takes over Italian soccer contract from IMG.

6 April 2021 Tom Bassam
  • Previous overseas deal was worth €370m a season
  • Fee hampered by absence of BeIN from bidding on MENA contract

Serie A, Italian soccer’s top flight, has awarded its overseas media rights contract to the Infront agency for the 2021/22 to 2023/24 cycle.

After a tumultuous process to finalise its domestic broadcast deal, Infront’s bid got the unanimous backing of the Serie A clubs. The global rights deal excludes the US market – where the league recently agreed a €64 million (US$75.8 million) a year deal with CBS – and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which the league is tendering separately.

The agency is paying €139 million (US$164 million) per year for the contract, according to reports in Italy, with Infront seeing off a rival bid from Kosmos, the investment group that backs the Davis Cup. According to reports, the contract drew 49 offers, with IMG, Sportfive and Mediapro all said to have bid.

Serie A signed off on the Infront deal after a second round of private negotiations following alterations to the tender documents made after initial talks in January.

Infront served as Serie A’s media rights advisor during the last cycle, with the league reportedly paying the agency between €50 million (US$59.2 million) and €60 million (US$71.1 million) per season over the past three years.

Serie A president Luigi de Siervo warned recently that the league should expect a dip in the value of its overseas rights revenue.

IMG, Serie A’s outgoing overseas broadcast partner, paid in the region of €370 million (US$438 million) per season once technical costs, betting rights and the Coppa Italia knockout competition were factored in.

“It will definitely go down. A decent amount,” De Siervo told the Associated Press last month in relation to the overseas rights deal.

“Our biggest problem is BeIN. BeIN was worth 50 per cent of our package and they’ve decided not to take part in our auction. And they’ve prohibited all of their friends and intermediaries to make offers for their countries. So we’ve been ostracised by BeIN, and that makes it very complicated and difficult for us.”    

At the start of its sales process, the league publicly targeted a figure of up to €500 million (US$592 million) per season, but as De Siervo said, the absence of BeIN bidding for the MENA contract hampered that goal. The Qatar-based pay-TV broadcaster has expiring Serie A rights contracts in France, Australia and MENA that were worth in the region of US$170 million when first signed.

Last June BeIN declined to broadcast Serie A games in the MENA region amid tensions over the league’s ties with Saudi Arabia. The broadcaster was unhappy that Serie A continued to show support to the kingdom despite state links to the BeoutQ pirate network that had been so damaging to BeIN’s business.

BeIN resumed coverage after agreeing a compensation deal with Serie A and IMG.

Serie A has awarded its overseas media rights contract to Infront 

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