Vivendi-Telecom-Mediaset axis poses threat to Sky’s dominance

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Rights-holders are keenly following negotiations between French conglomerate Vivendi and Italian media group Mediaset, which could unblock the impasse over Vivendi’s takeover of the Mediaset Premium pay-television platform.

[...] Vivendi and Telecom Italia have already announced a joint venture pay-television company, Canale Plus, which the two parent organizations say will compete in the sports-rights market. Ownership of the joint venture is split 80:20 between Telecom Italia and Vivendi Canal Plus. Some analysts believe the joint venture would not have the penetration to compete with leading pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia for premium sports rights. It is thought likely the joint venture will initially deliver content via the TIM Vision OTT service, which in June had about 600,000 subscribers. Adding Mediaset Premium 2m subscribers to the operation would create a strong rival to Rupert Murdoch Sky Italia, which has about 4.8m subscribers.

Augusto Preta, founder of media research company ITMedia Consulting, said it would make no commercial sense for such a company to compete with Sky for one of the most expensive packages of Serie A rights, which could cost several hundred million euros per season. It would be more logical to bid for a smaller package of rights, or a specific OTT package, should the league make one available.

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