DAZN’s rights triumph in Italy, which means the streaming sports service will be the new home of Serie A, has another important knock-on implication: it contributes to the transition of live television from broadcast to digital. The deal announced with TIM (the provider of ultra-fast broadband and mobile across Italy, plus Pay TV) makes it clear that supporting distribution without satellite is a key part of the strategic partnership that ensures DAZN Serie A is on TIMVISION for the next three years.
“DAZN will continue to distribute matches via the Internet and has chosen TIM as its strategic partner. We will support migration from satellite to the streaming platform through our ultrabroadband coverage on the fixed network, in addition to the mobile network, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and satellite WIFI, making it possible to offer all customers the best user experience,” TIM noted when announcing its expanded collaboration with the streaming service last month. “Migration from satellite to a streaming platform will continue.”
DAZN already had Serie A rights for 114 matches per season following its 2018 agreement with the sports league. That deal meant Sky Italia was the primary rights holder. DAZN and TIM signed a deal in December 2019 that meant TIM could offer DAZN and its then three-matches-per-round Serie A coverage to its customers. Now DAZN has rights to all ten Serie A matches per round (seven of which are exclusive to the streamer) and all are available via TIM. In the words of the triple-play provider: “This will make TIM the reference telecom and Pay TV operator offering DAZN content in Italy.”
The two companies said they will also strengthen their work to combat piracy, working with other stakeholders – promising a series of measures to tackle the threat.
As announced in March, DAZN will be the primary ‘broadcaster’ of Serie A from 2021 to 2024 and the extended TIM partnership kicks off in July. DAZN described its rights win as “one of the largest sports streaming deals in history and a seminal tipping point in the migration of sports consumption from linear Pay TV to OTT.”
TIM’s ultra-broadband fixed network covers 85% of Italy (homes passed) and most recently the service provider has focused on upgrading rural areas to at least 30 Mbps in an attempt to close the ‘digital divide’. The Puglia region in the south is cited as one example of what is being achieved: 99.4% of TIM homes their use the fixed network, giving them access to 200 Mbps offers (using fibre-to-the-cabinet) or 1 Gbps with FTTH. In this region, the remaining 0.6% of homes are covered by ultra-broadband FWA or satellite connections.
For TIM, the DAZN agreement is not just about its Pay TV provision – it is a showcase for terrestrial networks. “This agreement will allow users to view the content via broadband, at the same time strengthening and speeding up the country’s digitisation process. As well as spreading ultrabroadband connections in Italy, the agreement with DAZN will strengthen our convergence strategy, combining the best fixed-mobile connectivity with a unique sports and entertainment content offer in Italy.
“The partnership also consolidates TIMVISION’s position as the leading aggregator of premium products which, thanks to our new set-top box, will provide viewers with a unique and compelling experience.”
Focusing on his company’s rights success, James Rushton, Co-CEO at DAZN Group, said: “We are thrilled that Serie A has a new home on DAZN in Italy. This is a historic agreement that confirms DAZN as the leading sports destination in Italy and rewards fans with unbeatable coverage of Serie A. DAZN was founded with a vision for premium sports to be more accessible, and this agreement will deliver on that whilst continuing to drive innovation and improve the fan experience.”
This is indeed a ground-breaking moment, with a born-digital streamer taking vast exclusive rights to a top domestic sports league. It shows that you no longer need to own a distribution network to sit at the top table. It also shows that you don’t even need other non-TV products to cross-sell in order to justify a major rights deal. DAZN is not motivated by using football as the gateway to sell broadband or keep customers loyal to existing triple-play packages, and it does not have a global shopping service to promote. However, the significant contribution that TIM is reported to be making (paying DAZN per season so it can offer DAZN, including Serie A, to its TIMVISION customers) does mean there is a network/broadband/cross-sell/loyalty element to what has happened. As regards the migration from broadcast to streaming – Italy now provides a test-bed for the future of television distribution.