April 7 – The financial fall out of Serie A’s failure to back beIN Sport in its battle against piracy and in particular Saudi-focussed BeoutQ has now come home to roost via a drop in overseas broadcast rights that could be as much as €150 million annually.
Serie A has awarded the rights to the Infront agency for the 2021/22 to 2023/24 cycle for a reported €139 million annually.
The previous international broadcast rights deal generated Serie A clubs €370 million per season. The new €139 million deal with Infront excludes the €64 million annual deal just concluded with CBS, and the Middle East and North Africa region which is being tendered separately.
The beIN Sports pay-television channel in previous rights deals has made up more than half of Serie A’s international broadcast revenue with coverage across the Middle East and Africa with its main channel offering, as well as via its channels in France, Turkey and Indonesia. beIN paid about $500 million over the period of the last contract, about $170 million per year.
But the scale of the beoutQ signal piracy of football rights in particular, forced beIN to reassess it rights model and with the Italians agreeing to take the Copa Italia to Saudi beIN argued they were supporting the piracy and that as a result would not invest further in the league going forward.
Acknowledging the likely revenue drop Serie A president Luigi de Siervo told the AP: “It will definitely go down. A decent amount. Our biggest problem is beIN. beIN was worth 50% 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.”
The accusation that beIN are pressurising others to keep out of the rights bidding is an incendiary one. But certainly not as incendiary as the Italian deal making that prompted beIN’s withdrawal after Serie A chose to desert their broadcast partners in the first instance in the piracy dispute.
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