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New foreign TV deal for Serie A is underwhelming

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Proponents of Italian football are crowing over the "huge" new foreign TV deal signed this morning... but when you actually look at the breakdowns, it's not terribly impressive.

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Serie A has a new international TV deal, as the teams of Italy's top flight chose from various proposed contracts this morning and elected to stay with MP & Silva, the same sports media rights distribution company that held the international TV rights for Serie A for the last three years.

The new deal will start next season and give the league €186 million per season, an increase of €69 million per season over the last three years with MP & Silva. League supporters are calling this a huge win for the league and a massive financial boost... but when you start looking at it as more than just a big number for the league, it starts to get disappointing in a hurry.

Assuming that the twenty Serie A clubs get the entire €186 million and the league office doesn't keep a chunk of it, that's only a little over €9 million per club per season. While that's still a large percentage increase from the roughly €5.8 million clubs got each season from the previous deal (again assuming the league doesn't keep a lot of it), that's just not very much money at all in modern football. Hell, Napoli got more than that when they sold Federico Fernandez last summer.

It starts looking even worse when you compare it to similar deal around Europe. La Liga in Spain gets more (though a horribly unfair distribution of the deal means the top three clubs get 75% of the money), and the Bundesliga in Germany does as well. As for England... they get €63 million per club per season. That's Edinson Cavani money, every year, just for having matches to put on TV.

The other downside is that by staying with MP & Silva, fans of Italian football who live abroad may have to continue to deal with sub-par viewing options. American fans in particular will be upset if beIN continues to hold the broadcasting rights, as the US branch of the network has continually disrespected the league over the last couple of years, frequently choosing to show low-table La Liga matches or even matches from England's second division instead of higher-profile Serie A games. Making things worse is that this season, beIN has frequently removed coverage of Serie A matches from their online streaming service hours before the match begins, and hasn't archived many matches that they did show.

Simply put, this deal is in no way a victory for the league or for Italian football as a whole. Until Italian teams can compete with other big clubs around Europe financially, they'll have a harder and harder time competing with them on the pitch. Deals like this will only continue to leave a marked gap between Italy and the rest of their supposed competition among Europe's elite.