The Court of Milan has rejected an appeal made by Italian public-service broadcaster Rai in response to Sky Italia’s decision not to extend its free-to-air (FTA) rights agreement to show the Uefa Champions League.
Rai had exercised an option to extend its sub-licence agreement with the pay-TV network in January, to retain rights to European soccer’s premier club competition for the upcoming 2019/20 campaign.
However, Sky Italia, which secured rights to the Champions League for the 2018 to 2021 cycle in 2017 in a €900 million (US$1.02 billion) deal, later triggered an option to reopen negotiations for its FTA rights, prompting Rai to make a legal challenge.
Rai, which currently pays Sky Italia a reported €40 million (US$45.2 million) per season for domestic Champions League rights, signed an agreement with the broadcaster in January 2018 to air a Champions League fixture of its choice played on Wednesdays, plus the tournament’s two semi-finals, the final, and the Uefa Super Cup.
Sky Italia’s decision not to renew its agreement with Rai comes after the distribution of Serie A rights was altered during the top-flight Italian league’s domestic rights tender held in June last year, which saw DAZN, the global sports over-the-top (OTT) service, acquire streaming rights to three matches from Italian soccer’s top club competition.
According to reports in Italy, the continuation of Sky Italia’s agreement with Rai was based on the condition that it owned the same rights as its previous three-year cycle, which the Comcast-owned broadcaster claims is no longer the case now that it shares Serie A rights with DAZN.
Media set, which previously held premium rights to the Champions League, is now primed to enter negotiations with Sky to regain FTA rights to 16 games, including the Uefa Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea on 14th August, according to La Repubblica newspaper.