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Eurosport agrees two-season Lega Basket renewal as free-to-air rights unsold

Deron Washington Pallacanestro Trieste iin action during the Italy Lega Basket. (Photo by Fabio Averna/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Discovery-owned pan-European sports broadcaster Eurosport has renewed its pay-television rights to the Lega Basket Serie A for a further two seasons.

Eurosport will hold the pay-television to the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons of the top tier of Italian domestic basketball after the rights-holder launched an invitation to tender for the rights earlier this month.

The renewal includes rights to all regular-season matches, the championship playoff game, the Super Cup and the Coppa Italia. Discovery has committed to airing the Super Cup final on one of its free-to-air channels in Italy.

Eurosport’s previous deal was worth upwards of €1.5m ($1.77m) per season for the 2017-18 to 2019-20 rights cycle.

Lega Basket said today (Friday) that free-to-air and radio packages remain unsold and has not ruled out the possibility of retendering those packages.

Italian public service broadcaster Rai held free-to-air rights to one game per game week over the same 2017-20 period, paying around €500,000 per year.

Going to market, Lega Basket is thought to have set a ‘base price’ of €1.6m per season for the pay-television rights in 2020-21, followed by €1.7m in 2021-22. The free-to-air rights are thought to have carried a base price of €600,000 in 2020-21, followed by €700,000 in 2021-22.

The rights-holder’s invitation to tender was understood to have rested heavily on the need for increased exposure, which sources close to the deal told SportBusiness were needed for the sport “to regain a certain position”.

The league was heavily impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic and has forecast a loss of between €38m ($44.9m) and €40m for the financial year. The league has attributed these losses to a decline in revenues from ticketing, sponsorship and any potential rebates to broadcasters.

The rights-holder is believed to be in advanced negotiations with Infront that would see the agency become the league’s sole advisor on commercial and sponsorship matters for a three-year term between 2020-21 and 2022-23.

The league would continue to handle all matters related to its media rights in-house. The proposed deal with Infront is thought to include the option to extend for a further three seasons if both parties are happy after the first three seasons.