MILAN ⸺ Sky Italia has appealed to Italy’s competition authorities against a deal between sports streaming app DAZN and Telecom Italia (TIM) for screening soccer matches, it said on Tuesday.
In a blow to Sky Italia, DAZN in March secured the right to screen all Serie A soccer matches in Italy over the next three seasons for 2.5 billion euros ($3 billion) and also struck a distribution partnership with TIM.
Under the deal, TIM would cover more than 40% of the annual payments DAZN has to make to Serie A, a document seen by Reuters showed, as it bets on soccer to promote its ultra-fast broadband and pay-TV services.
Sky Italia, which is owned by Comcast and launched broadband services in Italy last year, said the accord was “illegitimate” and strengthened TIM’s already dominant position in broadband by preventing DAZN from distributing matches through other telecoms operators.
TIM said in a statement that streaming all the Serie A games was a major step to boost Italy’s digitalisation and blamed Sky, which distributes some of its content via satellite, of trying to delay the country’s digital transition.
TIM Chief Executive Luigi Gubitosi told analysts last month that under its deal with DAZN, TIM is the only telecoms company that can offer a subscription to the sports streaming service.
Earlier this month, DAZN rejected a 1.5 billion euro bid from Sky Italia to host the app’s content, including Serie A matches, on Sky’s platforms, in Italy for the next three years, two sources close to the matter said.
Sources told Reuters that other Telecom Italia rivals have also complained to Italy’s competition watchdog about the partnership between the former phone monopoly and DAZN.
Italian phone carrier Windtre on Tuesday called on the competition authorities to safeguard consumers right to choose where to watch soccer matches, including satellite platforms.
The Italian antitrust body and DAZN declined to comment.
TIM shares fell 1.35% on Milan’s bourse on Tuesday, underperforming Italy’s blue chip index, which ended down 0.32%.
($1 = 0.84 euros)
Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Valentina Za, Cristina Carlevaro, David Clarke and Angus MacSwan; Reuters