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Serie A face uncertain future on US TV after decision delayed

Published: Updated: 08:04, 9 May 2024
The Italian top division yet to find right bidder for next season amid low interest in market

The future of Italy's Serie A on US television is uncertain as the current three-year media rights deal with CBS Sports and Paramount+ comes to an end on May 26. With only 101 days left until the start of the 2024/25 season, no new agreement has been reached, causing concern among football fans and frustration among those close to the broadcast discussions.

The negotiations between Serie A officials and CBS Sports have hit a roadblock. In September 2023, Jeff Gerttula, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Sports Digital, expressed optimism about renewing their deal with Serie A. However, when Serie A's domestic rights deal with DAZN and Sky failed to meet clubs' expectations in October that year, things took a turn.

Serie A had hoped for an increase in rights fees from its domestic deal but ended up agreeing to a five-year contract worth approximately $4.91 billion - half what the Premier League earns from its most recent four-season domestic broadcast contract.

This disappointing outcome put pressure on Serie A to generate more revenue overseas. Sources revealed that Italian league executives wanted Paramount+ (owned by CBS) to pay $150 million per year for US rights - double what they currently pay ($75.8 million/year). Surprised by these high expectations, sources say that CBS decided not to renew their rights.

ESPN’s entrance changed the dynamics

In early 2024, two offers were made for the broadcasting rights: one "considerable amount" from an undisclosed source and a substantially lower offer from ESPN. While neither offer met Serie A's desired $150 million per year target, insiders suggest both are reasonable given current circumstances.

However, Italian league executives have yet to make a decision regarding these offers despite time running out before next season begins.

Serie A's popularity in the US owes much to Paramount+'s coverage over the past three seasons. The streaming service's extensive coverage has been well-received by American football fans, with highlights including a post-match interview with Marcus Thuram after winning the scudetto.

Serie A face race against time ahead of next season

The future of Serie A on US television hangs in balance as officials seem to be waiting for a last-minute massive offer. However, this delay could hinder potential broadcasters from budgeting and preparing for the new season.

In their previous deal with CBS Sports and Paramount+, Serie A signed approximately 150 days before the season started. With only 101 days left until kick-off, fans are hoping that a decision will be reached soon to ensure they can continue watching their favorite teams and players in action next season.

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