There was a time in the late 20th century when the Italian soccer league (Serie A) was the go-to destination for some of the world’s elite talent. Since those heady days, however, Serie A has been surpassed in terms of playing talent, and global appeal, by other top flight divisions across Europe, none more so than the English Premier League, which consistently recruits some of the world’s top stars and continues to dominate world headlines.
But one man has made it his mission to transform Serie A into a global media company and return the league to the prominence it once enjoyed. Paolo Dal Pino was recently elected as new league President and, among his remarks at his first league assembly, he outlined his ambition to “accelerate the transformation of Lega Serie A into a media company competitive on an international scale”.
Dal Pino explained that the league must work as a content producer that distributes its product on multiple platforms. He acknowledged that the number of platforms is growing and that Serie A must structure itself to take advantage of the changing needs of the consumer, creating the most desirable product possible.
The new league president has already set up meetings with international distributors like Amazon and other OTT operators to increase the profile of the Serie A brand. Dal Pino indicated the league has the potential to double or even triple its revenues with an expanded international presence.
He predicts the sale of domestic rights for the next three-year cycle, from 2021-2024, will be completed within six months. Those international rights are currently held by the IMG agency, which is widely considered to be losing money on its annual investment of €380M.
In Canada, Serie A broadcast rights are owned by UK-based OTT streaming service, DAZN, which has sublicensed a six-game weekend package to conventional broadcaster TLN. Selected games are also available, in the Italian language, on the RAI Italia foreign service.
One significant change that would allow the league to maximize its reach both in Italy and abroad was the rescheduling of fixtures. Dal Pino is considering moving a Sunday afternoon match to a Saturday time slot, which would appeal to Serie A clubs, fans and broadcasters.
“We have gigantic potential that we cannot develop if we don’t think with this flexibility,” Dal Pino said.
Juventus have previously urged the league to schedule more early kickoffs to help grow their fan base in Asia. The EPL and Spain’s La Liga have both taken this step to maximize their viewership in the region.
This winter’s transfer market appears to be following a trend that was established with Juventus’ acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018. More and more established elite players are making the move to Serie A to further their careers.
Since the surprising return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the league earlier this month, several more star players have made, or are rumoured to be making, an imminent move to Italy, including Ashley Young, Simon Kjaer, Victor Moses and Christian Eriksen.
As Serie A continues to draw interest from the world’s top talents (and their agents), the league must be willing to explore all opportunities to expand its reach to other global markets through traditional and emerging platforms, in order to engage existing supporters and a potentially broader fan base in underserved regions around the world.
Photo Courtesy: Yahoo Sports