By Marco Schaden (@Marco_Polo_7):
Lega Serie A’s TV contract in America with Bein Sports through MP & Silva will be expiring after this season and the bidders will come from all shapes and sizes. The league will be looking for a partner that will expand their distribution in the United States as their experience with beIN Sports holds them to only 17 million households in the country.
Infront Sports and Media, an advisor to Serie A, held an event in New York City to introduce new buyers to the league. Notable potential investors that were present included Amazon, DIRECTV, and MP & Silva.
Infront and Serie A have a decision to make over the next 12 months; do they want to unfold a short-term or a long-term plan for growing their league in the United States. Short-term, take the money and run; whoever deems to be the highest bidder will be the next TV rights holder in the United States. Long-term view, this game is growing at a tremendous rate and is only going to get bigger in the United States. The Premier League has done a fantastic job of marketing themselves by becoming extremely easy to access on NBCSN. Serie A should do the same and sell the rights to someone that can grow the league and will be easy to access for the consumer.
Amazon has been rumored to be looking at other sports packages like the NBA. the NFL and even Serie A. However, a dive into Italian calcio would be their first major sports package to offer to Amazon Prime members. The ever growing and popular Amazon Fire TV Stick would allow Serie A fans to stream the games directly onto their television. This would be huge for younger fans as many have opted not get a cable subscription and the distribution for Serie A would be much greater than what they currently have with beIN Sports.
Major League Soccer recently rejected a $4 billion global media rights deal from MP & Silva because of the stipulation that promotion/relegation be introduced into the league. If MP & Silva decided to invest in the Serie A, they would obviously have no problem with the structure of the Italian leagues (and any other league in the world they would invest in besides MLS). Serie A have traditionally only signed three-year agreements that allow them to be more flexible in their dealing. The owner and founder of MP & Silva, Ricardo Silva does have ties to Italy as he was born in Milan and became the CEO of Milan Channel. Speaking Italian at the negotiating table would not hurt, but money talks and Ricardo Silva has shown he has plenty of it.
It will be interesting to see what beIN SPORTS does and if they have anything new to offer to Serie A. Would not be surprised if MP & Silva comes in with a massive bid as the ties to Italy are already established and they are backed by Chinese money. Amazon seems like the best choice in terms of distribution, the major networks and sports specific networks are not going to bidding this round. Amazon can reach a much bigger audience than any other buyer and Amazon could come in with big money as they realize every Serie A fan, young and old, will be buying a Fire Stick to watch the games.
From left to right: Michael Gandler (Chief Revenue Office of Inter), Popi Bonnici (Chief of Editorial Television Coverage), Claudio Fenucci (CEO of Bologna), James Palotta (Owner & President of AS Roma), Francesco Genuardi (Consule General), Marco Brunelli (CEO of Lega Serie A), Umberto Gandini (CEO of AS Roma), Luigi De Siervo (CEO of Infront Italy)