Italy’s antitrust regulator said on Thursday it had opened an inquiry into a deal between sports streaming app DAZN and Telecom Italia (TIM) on Serie A matches to assess whether it would damage competition.
Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) sealed a technical and distribution agreement with DAZN. This secured the rights to screen Italy’s top flight soccer league over the next three seasons for €2.5billion.
“The agreement between TIM and DAZN could lead to significant distortions of competition,” the authority said in a statement.
It added the deal could limit competitive development in the pay-TV market. It would also affect related businesses, including fixed retail, wholesale broadband services and mobile telecommunications.
The watchdog will assess whether adopting certain measures may alleviate some of the competition concerns. Those include a potential suspension of clauses to limit DAZN’s ability to distribute its services on other platforms.
TIM rivals challenge the agreement
Pay-TV operator SKY Italia and other TIM rivals challenged the agreement on antitrust grounds. They say the deal could strengthen TIM’s already dominant position in the broadband market.
TIM relies on football to promote its ultra-fast broadband and pay-TV services. Under the streaming deal, TIM will cover more than 40% of DAZN’s annual payments to the Serie A, Reuters reports.
TIM sent a detailed response to the watchdog’s actions, saying it was confident all aspects would be clarified. They added the deal with DAZN was meant to boost “competition in the pay-TV market, the viewing of streaming content and to accelerate the country’s digitalisation process to the benefit of all customers and telecommunications operators”.