UPDATED: All eyes in Italy’s TV and sports worlds will be on Amazon on February 4 when envelopes for bids to top Italian soccer league Serie A are opened.
Amazon is expected to be among the bidders for domestic broadcasting rights to Serie A in a move that could cause huge disruption within the country’s TV and streaming landscape. Initially set for January 27, the Serie A meeting where bids will be known was postponed to February 4.
Serie A league top manager Luigi De Siervo confirmed that talks with Amazon are ongoing during an appearance on a RAI radio show earlier this week, but he has cautioned that the league wants to avoid fragmenting rights deals to ensure Serie A fans don’t need multiple subscriptions to see all the games.
“Amazon? We are torn,” Di Siervo told RAI radio. “Our goal on the one hand is to maximize [revenues] but also to have all matches play on one platform. We need to understand if [Amazon] have the muscle to compete and buy multiple packages…we will only find out their real intentions when the envelopes are opened,” the Serie A chief added.
Reps for Amazon in Italy and the U.K. have declined to comment.
Amazon’s play for Serie A in Italy would pit the deep-pocketed streamer against Comcast-owned pay-TV operator Sky Italia which has been splitting the rights with DAZN, the sports platform owned by Ukrainian-born billionaire Lev Blavatnic. Serie A soccer is the cornerstone of Sky’s business in Italy.
Unlike Netflix, Amazon Prime has been pursuing sports rights as a way to boost its original series and movie offerings, delving deep into sports in the U.S. by snapping up rights to NFL games.
In Europe at the end of 2019, Amazon inked a three-year deal for rights to 16 Champions League matches for Prime Video in Germany. Amazon Prime Video is also in its second year as a domestic broadcast partner of English soccer’s Premier League. In soccer-crazed Italy, they made their first move last December, purchasing rights to exclusively broadcast 16 top UEFA Champions League soccer matches live on Wednesday nights, along with the UEFA Super Cup, for three seasons from 2021/22. The company reportedly paid €80 million ($98.8 million) per season.
Serie A currently holds a €973 million ($1.1 billion) domestic broadcast deal with Sky Italia and DAZN and is reportedly aiming to raise at least €1.15 billion ($1.40 billion) per season over the next three years from pay-TV rights.
Sky Italia and DAZN are expected to place raised bids. Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and Discovery, a major player in Italy, have also been reported to be among possible bidders.