Serie A misses target in domestic TV rights sale

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MILAN (Reuters) - Bids for the rights to screen Serie A matches in Italy over the next three seasons did not meet a target on Thursday, in a sign of lukewarm market reception for the sale amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Broadcasting rights are the main source of revenue for Serie A and are even more important with matches being played in empty stadiums due to COVID-19 restrictions and companies cutting advertising budgets.

The coronavirus crisis itself is prompting broadcasters to rein in their cost base.

Serie A aimed to raise 1.15 billion euros ($1.40 billion) per season over the next three years from the sale of the pay-TV rights for its home market, seeking an 18% uplift on current agreements.

Italy's top pay tv player Sky, sport streaming service DAZN, Eurosport and Spanish media firm Mediapro submitted offers for the rights, Serie A's Chief executive Luigi De Siervo told reporters after the clubs had examined the proposals.

He did not disclose the value of the offers put forward by the bidders but said the minimum target was not reached.

Italian league executives will now start talks with the broadcasters in a bid to raise the offers.

"I think there is room to improve the offers, they were not so bad as some could expect," De Siervo said.

De Siervo had hinted this week at a potential bid by Amazon after the Seattle-based giant made its debut in the Italian soccer media market by securing some UEFA Champions League matches. The U.S group has not joined the race for the Serie A rights, however, in a blow to the League's hopes of boosting the value of the rights sale.

($1 = 0.8237 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina, editing by Agnieszka Flak and Ed Osmond)