Mediaset on soccer team

Sky Italia loses exclusive broadcast rights

MILAN — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s commercial broadcast group Mediaset has signed a deal with national broadcaster La7 and its owner Telecom Italia for Mediaset to offer pay-per-view soccer matches.

The move ends the exclusive hold on live soccer that has powered Rupert Murdoch’s Italo paybox Sky Italia in the soccer-mad country.

The deal gives Mediaset digital terrestrial pay TV rights to the highlights of Serie A (First League) matches, played by the nine clubs that have signed contracts with La7 for the current championship and for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 tourneys.

Mediaset already holds contracts with the leading seven Serie A clubs, including Milan AC, Inter and Juventus, with the new agreement now giving Mediaset Premium clients the chance to see all the matches of the Serie A clubs.

Mediaset also has the rights to edit together highlights for “Live Premium.”

On Sunday, Mediaset will become the first broadcaster in the world to offer live pay-per-view soccer on digital terrestrial TV.

Viewers with a digital decoder and a prepaid card, which went on sale this week, will be able to see Mediaset’s Serie A games for e3 ($4) per match or per edition of the “Live Premium” show.

Sky’s digital soccer and sport package costs $62 per month and is distributed on broadband by FastWeb in some cities.

Digital terrestrial TV is expected to reach up to 20 million households within the next five years. According to analysts, Mediaset’s pay-per-game service will reach breakeven if 300,000 people watch each match.