A year and a half ago, CBS Sports secured the rights to Italy’s Serie A on a three-season deal worth around $75 million per year.
But if CBS wants to retain those rights following the 2023-24 season, it might cost them a lot more.
Reuters reports that Serie A is looking for a big increase in international rights fees, and will look to double those payments by 2027 and triple them by 2030.
Serie A secured only around 670 million euros ($657 million) from the sale of overseas TV rights in the 2021-2024 period, a ninth of the sum earned abroad by England’s Premier League, the world’s most lucrative domestic soccer competition.
Under a scenario drafted by Serie A Chief Executive Luigi De Siervo, the league sees international broadcasting revenue potentially growing to some 1.1 billion euros in the 2024-2027 cycle, to reach about 1.9 billion euros in the 2027-2030 period.
If they’re able to succeed, that would mean an American rightsholder could expect to pay around $150 million per year in the next cycle, increasing to $225 million in the cycle after that.
This might be a hard sell for CBS. The company’s deal with the Big Ten begins in 2023, and they’re paying around $350 million a season for those rights. CBS also retained the rights to the UEFA Champions League for the next two cycles, more than doubling its current rights fee to a reported $250 million per season. With an extra $400 million per year in commitments (for the Champions League, and the Big Ten when compared to the SEC’s current $55 million per year), would CBS really be willing to fork out an extra $75 million to Serie A?
If not, you’d imagine ESPN (the rightsholder prior to CBS) would at least be interested in talking with Serie A about the rights, and NBC would probably be keen as well. Perhaps even Warner Bros. Discovery (Turner was publicly linked to the Serie A rights several years ago before a series of mergers), which inked an eight-year deal with US Soccer earlier this year, or Apple, which locked in a decade-long deal with MLS, could be players.
I’m curious how much American broadcasters will value Serie A going forward. The league’s rights have bounced from beIN Sports to ESPN+ and now to CBS Sports, though the rights fees paid by beIN and ESPN were never reported. While the quest for more revenue is understandable, Serie A switching US media partners for the third straight cycle might raise some eyebrows going forward.