MILAN (Reuters) - Telecom Italia (TIM) is preparing to provide technological and financial support to sports streaming service DAZN Group as it bids for the rights to screen Italy's top soccer league, said three people close to the matter.
DAZN is leading the race for rights to broadcast Italy's Serie A matches over the next three seasons in a challenge to the country's dominant pay-TV player SKY, sources told Reuters this month.
The sources said that, under an accord that would be finalised if DAZN won the tender, Italy's biggest phone group would provide distribution capabilities to DAZN, betting on soccer to promote its broadband services.
TIM already has a distribution accord in place with both DAZN and SKY to stream sports events on its TIM Vision video platform.
TIM said in a statement it had agreed with DAZN to extend an already existing distribution agreement they had conditional upon the streaming service winning the rights.
TIM, which said cooperation would start from July this year and cover the whole live and on-demand sports content offer of DAZN, gave no financial details.
Sources have previously said that to win the right to show all Serie A matches on its streaming app, DAZN is offering about 850 million euros ($1 billion) per season.
A document seen by Reuters showed that DAZN's financial partner in the venture would cover more than 40% of the annual payments due by DAZN to Serie A.
The document does not specify the identity of the partner, but the sources said it refers to TIM, which would invest at least 1 billion euros over three seasons.
Bloomberg News reported news of the accord between DAZN and TIM earlier on Monday.
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Writing by Valentina Za; Editing by David Goodman)