Serie A finally assigns Middle East rights after beIN issues

MILAN (AP) — A year after Qatar-owned beIN Sports spurned the bidding process over concerns about the Italian league’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia, Serie A finally assigned its television rights for the Middle East to Abu Dhabi Media and Starzplay.

The league announced a three-year deal worth a total of $79 million — $23 million the first season, $25 million the second and $31 million the third.

“But the figures could increase based on revenue share and, according to potential audience estimates, that could mean another $20 or $30 million,” Serie A president Lorenzo Casini said Thursday.

Serie A had been reduced to showing games in the Middle East and North Africa on its own YouTube channel last season as beIN protested over the league’s deal to play three Italian Super Cups in Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s links to broadcast piracy through the renegade beoutQ operation.

Sixteen of Serie A’s 20 clubs voted for the Abu Dhabi deal a day after an Italian law change streamlined the process for formulating contracts for foreign rights.

“It was essential to modify the ‘Melandri law,’ because it limited the offers,” Casini said.

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