The Serie A TV rights for the 2018-21 seasons are up for tender and following Mediaset Premium’s refusal to make any offers, the auction and assigning of the rights has been postponed to November.
While all the focus and attention has been towards this delay, there is one particular item that has been overlooked: the lack of interest in acquiring the Serie A online streaming rights (packages C1 and C2).
It is important to note that in the previous 2014-17 tender, nobody acquired the online streaming rights.
The only offer received for those online rights was from UK based sports media company Perform Group, who operate across diverse digital platforms. In the past Perform Group was Lega Serie A’s distribution partner – providing online fans with official free-to-view highlights and news from Italy’s leading club football competition.
According to Il Sole 24 ore, Perform Group’s offer was deemed inadequate, well below the minimum price requested of €100 million per package. In fact, it is being reported they only offered €25 million for package C1 and another €25 million for package C2.
Interestingly, none of the over-the-top (OTT) companies made any offers, namely: Netflix, Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.
The question at this point is, why?
One plausible explanation can be the state of internet technology in Italy. Italy is currently 21st in mobile speed, well behind the UK (1st), Germany (2nd) and France (4th). Other than the speed, there is an issue with the coverage especially in a country with a high population density.
According to OpenSignal, the average 4G connection is attained only 58% of the time, and Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) is the provider who reaches the most at 68%.
On a world scale, Italy’s average speed of 9.2 Mbps ranks it 61st in the world, while only 12% of the connections surpass 15 Mbps. In comparison, in the UK that threshold is reached 42% of the time, while in Germany it is 33% according to Akamai.
With these indicators, is it really possible to have a quality online streaming service in Italy? Was it realistic to expect multiple offers for the online streaming rights of Serie A?
For now, the market has given its response.