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Lega Basket concludes Rai free-to-air deal, SN1 lands international rights

VARESE, ITALY - 2020/07/07: Argentine, Luis Scola of Pallacanestro Varese. (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Lega Basket Serie A, the governing body of the top-tier of Italian domestic basketball, has completed its domestic media-rights sales process after agreeing a two-season renewal for its free-to-air rights with Italian public broadcaster Rai.

The free-to-air and radio rights acquired by Rai cover the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and follow on from the sale of the league’s pay-television rights to Discovery-owned pan-European sports broadcaster Eurosport in late August.

Rai’s rights include the late Sunday game as well as highlights rights which can be showcased from 23:00 (CET) on the final day of that game week. The broadcaster’s radio rights include ever game from each season. The broadcaster will also be able to show select quarter-final games.

Lega Basket kicked off its domestic tender on August 7 with a two-week window for bids to be submitted. The pay-television rights were sold in the tender, though the league re-tendered the free-to-air rights.

The league’s international rights represent the only package to have changed hands during this rights cycle with Discovery being replaced by SN1 Consulting, the Munich-based consultancy headed by Sascha Kojic.

The rights include the full package of games each week.

SN1 is understood to have defeated one other offer for the international rights with both proposals above the minimum price set by Lega Basket.

The international rights will be officially awarded to SN1 after a period of 45 days from the communication to the AGCM, the Italian competition regulator, in accordance with Italy’s Melandri Decree. The consultancy is best known for its work in advising the European Handball Federation on its international broadcast and sponsorship rights sales process (from 2020 to 2030).

All rights for the buyers are on a platform-neutral basis.

The previous cycle concluded at the end of the 2019-20 season. Discovery was paying upwards of €1.5m ($1.8m) per season, while Rai was paying around €500,000 for the same three-season cycle between 2017-18 and 2019-20.

When Lega Basket went to market, it was 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.

Both broadcasters’ rights are equivalent to those they held in the previous cycle.

Eurosport holds rights to every game from the Lega Basket Serie A season as well as the Championship playoff game, the Super Cup and the Coppa Italia. Discovery has committed to airing the Super Cup game on one of its free-to-air channels in Italy in the coming cycle.

Discovery also acquired the title sponsorship rights to the Super Cup as part of its agreement.

Lega Basket was looking to boost its exposure after forecasting a loss of up to €40m for the financial year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic’s effects hit the league’s ticketing and sponsorship revenues, along with any potential rebates to broadcasters.

To assist with boosting revenues, the league was understood to be in talks with the Infront agency to handle its commercial aspects. Media rights sales will continue to be dealt with in-house, but the agency would be the league’s sole advisor on commercial and sponsorship matters.