Serie A aims to increase foreign broadcasting revenues despite COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Italy's Lega Serie A is seen in Milan, Italy, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Serie A aims to expand its foreign revenues over the next three seasons despite the challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic, as it presses ahead with plans to develop its media business and increase exposure abroad.

Home to Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus, Serie A launched on Monday a tender to sell the rights to screen its matches outside Italy for the 2021-2024 period, defying challenging market conditions due to the pandemic.

Under an existing deal which expires in 2021, Serie A raises around 370 million euros ($442 million) each season from selling its broadcasting rights abroad, mostly to media agency IMG. That is roughly a quarter of what the Premier League reaps annually outside the UK.

Chief Executive Luigi De Siervo told a press briefing after the launch of the tender that Serie A aimed to raise up to 500 million euros a year with the new contract.

Broadcasting rights are the main source of revenue for Serie A, and are increasingly crucial as matches are played in empty stadiums and companies shrink advertising budgets.

De Siervo admitted that the pandemic made the outlook for the tender uncertain, but said Serie A had enjoyed a 20% increase of its overseas audience over the past season.

With a global fan base of 375 million people, Serie A aims to double its international media revenue in three years through 2027, De Siervo said. A team of former top players will be enrolled to promote Serie A worldwide.

The league is also selling a 10% stake in its media business unit to a private equity consortium for 1.7 billion euros

A final decision on the deal is expected in December, De Siervo said.

The bid showed the League's plan to create a media company to produce content for audiences all over the world was going in the right direction, he said. "We compete with global entertainment majors for soccer fans' time".

($1 = 0.8371 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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