Italian broadcaster swaps MotoGP for WSBK

Thursday, May 17, 2012
The big news in Italy this week has been a series of announcements regarding future TV broadcasting for MotoGP and World Superbike. MotoGP will move from Mediaset's free-to-air Italia 1 channel to Sky from 2014, with eight races broadcast free each season and the rest pay-per-view. “We are glad we have reached this agreement," said Sky Italia CEO, Andrea Zappia. "It represents a new, decisive and important signal for subscribers who, in years to come, will be able to rely on one of the deepest-rooted sports event in Italians' hearts." Mediaset meanwhile is switching its focus to World Superbike, signing a three-year (free-to-air) deal for WSBK to be broadcast on Italia 1 from 2013, taking over the rights from La7. “We have decided to switch our target to a very competitive and spectacular championship, with bikes that enhance the battles between great riders and render the outcome of each race uncertain right until the very end,” said Giorgio Giovetti, head of Sports Rights Purchasing for Mediaset. “Superbike is a sporting contest whose value will be enhanced considerably thanks to the visibility guaranteed by Italia 1 and by the technical and journalistic commentary of Mediaset's sports editorial team”. Italy's future MotoGP TV format will thus be similar to the UK's F1 coverage. Starting this season all F1 races are shown live on Sky, but with half of the races also made available free-to-air (via the BBC). Some believe the future of sport broadcasting is direct from the commercial rights holder to the customer, using the internet. But this will only replace (rather than compliment) the current format if the income generated - through subscription, on-screen advertising etc - can exceed the combined amount being paid by the TV broadcasters to the rights holder. Dorna already offers comprehensive pay-per-view live MotoGP coverage of every grand prix through, while the BBC - for example - provides 'free' live MotoGP coverage for UK TV license holders (requiring use of a UK IP address) through its iPlayer service. Eurosport offers its MotoGP coverage online through a dedicated player, but it is also IP sensitive and requires a further subscription even for those already paying to receive the TV channel. However British Eurosport/Sky subscribers (using a UK IP address) can watch the channel live online at no extra cost using 'Sky Go'. Fuelled by decreasing free-to-air coverage, numerous illegal websites offer live TV broadcasts for free.
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