As ViacomCBS Grabs U.S. Rights To Serie A Soccer From ESPN, Sky-DAZN Battle Heats Up In Italy

Serie A soccer telecasts are shifting from ESPN to ViacomCBS in the U.S., but prized home-country rights to the Italian league are the subject of a fierce battle between Sky and DAZN.

CBS Sports and Lega Serie A confirmed details today of the exclusive rights in the U.S., which will move to Paramount+ and CBS linear platforms as of this summer. The three-year deal is worth about $224 million, according to a person familiar with the pact.

Globally, Serie A is a prominent circuit, but the rights within Italy are especially valuable. Comcast-owned Sky and DAZN, the Len Blavatnik-backed service that just appointed ex-Disney exec Kevin Mayer as chairman, already share domestic rights, with most games on Sky. A new rights deal could see another split, but each company wants to control as many exclusive games as possible.

Parties are expected to be back at the bargaining table Friday, with bids on the table of $840 million by DAZN and $750 million by Sky, according to a source familiar with the talks. ViacomCBS is not in the running for the Italian rights, sources confirmed.

Reps from DAZN and Sky did not respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. deal is the latest get for ViacomCBS, which last year surprised the sports world by winning rights to UEFA Champions League. The rollout of Paramount+, the rebrand of CBS All Access, motivated that deal, and it’s a centerpiece of the Serie A agreement.

In the U.S., Paramount+ will stream more than 400 club matches each season through 2024. That slate will feature all 380 regular-season matches, at least 25 Coppa Italia matches, and the Supercoppa Italiana match each year between the winners of Serie A and Coppa Italia. Select matches will be televised each year on CBS Sports linear platforms, including CBS Sports Network. 

“We are building critical mass in soccer, and the addition of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana is another major step in the expansion of CBS Sports’ extensive lineup of live soccer coverage on Paramount+ and across our linear and digital platforms,” Jeffrey Gerttula, EVP and GM of CBS Sports Digital, said in a press release. “Showcasing this historic league and some of the world’s biggest clubs is a tremendous opportunity to further grow the sport in the U.S. by delivering first-class coverage to a dedicated and passionate audience.”

Luigi De Siervo, CEO of Lega Serie A, expressed “great satisfaction” with the outcome. “In a strategic area like the United States of America this agreement confirms the growth of the international image of the Serie A brand through an important partner like CBS Sports.”

Streaming is increasingly essential to the media profile of soccer in the U.S. The addition of Serie A will give Paramount+ 1,000 matches a year. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, meanwhile, has had exclusive Premier League games. CEO Jeff Shell said last December that the live broadcasts were the No. 1 driver of premium subscriptions and engagement on the service.

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