ROME — Italians will be getting this summer’s European Cup soccer on free HD TV courtesy of pubcaster RAI, which is hailing the move as a milestone in Italy’s DTT switch.
RAI, holder of exclusive Italo rights to the highly popular games, has opted not to split those rights with Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox as originally planned.
Instead, the pubcaster is trumpeting itself as Italy’s free HD TV pioneer, launching the whole European Cup package for free, and using it to bow the country’s first HD TV transmissions on DTT.
“This is a key step we are taking to gain ground on terrestrial digital and to improve the service for everyone for free,” enthused RAI general director Claudio Cappon.
Up until now Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, which is RAI’s main rival, has been much more active than the pubcaster in preparing for the country’s switch from analog to DTT, planned for 2012.
Mediaset recently launched three pay TV channels on DTT on which it also airs soccer in pay-per-view.
Italy has about six million households equipped with DTT decoders, four million of which also have HD TV sets, out of a total 22 million TV homes.