DAZN, the online subscription sports service owned by the UK's Perform Group, has reached agreement with Italy's two main pay TV providers, Sky and Mediaset. From DAZN's launch in Italy next month, customers of Sky and Mediaset Premium will be able to access the live and on demand service via smart TVs and connected devices for no additional fee.
Sky will include the DAZN app on its high end set-top box, Sky Q, allowing customers to access DAZN on their TV sets via an internet connection. DAZN will not be retransmitted via satellite for Sky or digital terrestrial for Mediaset Premium.
The launch of DAZN in Italy follows its acquisition of one of the three packages of Serie A rights from 2018/19 to 2020/21 earlier in the summer. Perform Group will pay €193 million ($226 million) per season to broadcast three games each week: one kicking off at 8.30pm on Saturdays, plus one at 12.30pm and another at 3pm on Sunday.
In Europe, DAZN has so far launched only in Germany and Austria, where its rights include the Champions League and the English Premier League. After the Serie A allocation process, it also acquired exclusive rights to broadcast every game in Serie B, the second tier of Italian football, enriching its portfolio with another valuable resource.
The company, headquartered in London, will be available for €9.99 a month and, while no launch date has been announced, Serie A starts on 19 August. In the meantime, Perform is clearly showing a proactive approach in terms of alliances and communication. For example, it has already announced that Paolo Maldini (one of the most iconic figures in Italian football) and Diletta Leotta (a former Sky presenter) will be part of its team.
By reaching agreement with the two pay TV groups, DAZN is taking a less risky approach to establishing itself in the Italian market than competing head-on for customers. DAZN will have the opportunity to increase its subscriber base and raise its profile in the new market more quickly, an approach clearly intended to soften competition with the incumbents in this first phase. Given its ownership of key rights to Italian football, DAZN’s entry is likely to change the Italian market and it will not be surprising if in the future DAZN changes its strategy to compete as a standalone platform.
At the same time, with this agreement Sky has affirmed its leadership position in the pay TV market. It will be able to provide its subscribers with all the Serie A and Serie B games (as well as all the international leagues that Sky has acquired in the past few months) under the same subscription.
The position of Mediaset Premium seems less clear. Having lost Champions League rights for the next three-season cycle to Sky, it has not been able to obtain any Serie A packages and its future seems to be uncertain. Coverage of the summer's World Cup finals was a commercial success, despite the absence of the Italian nation team, but every game was aired on Mediaset's free-to-air channels - hardly a trailer for the subscription to its pay TV platform.
The Premium platform does not, at the moment, have any exclusive rights that could attract new subscribers, and its sport portfolio will be limited to third-party offerings from DANZ and Eurosport. It has yet to be confirmed whether April's content-sharing agreement between Mediaset and Sky will include the Sky Sports channels being added to Mediaset Premium.