Napoli won't play ball with Mediaset-Sky Italia


ROME -- Napoli will be the first top-division Italian soccer team to forgo its own television deal, opting instead to broadcast its games online beginning with the fifth week of the season.

The team, owned by film producer and Filmauro CEO Aurelio De Laurentiis, has rejected the terms offered by broadcasters Mediaset and Sky Italia, which combine to broadcast all the games in soccer's Serie A. Those networks will continue to broadcast Napoli games but under the terms of the contract with the team's opponent. Those deals will still generate income for Napoli, according to press reports.

Napoli, newly promoted from Serie B, is off to a strong start this year, sitting in a tie for third with perennial powerhouse Juventus after three weeks. But beginning in the fifth week, fans who want to follow the team's fortunes will be able to do so online.

In an interview that appeared on the club's Web site, De Laurentiis said the move to subscription-based online broadcasting is being made to provide the team and fans with more flexibility. It's a step that several teams have mulled in recent years, and some local media outlets have speculated that, if Napoli's move proves a success, it could spark a similar move by other teams.

De Laurentiis, nephew of famed producer Dino De Laurentiis, has produced more than 60 films, including some of the most successful Italian-made films in recent years, including "Natale a Miami" (Christmas in Miami), "Manuale d'Amore" (Love Manual) and last year's hits "Natale a New York" (Christmas in New York) and "Mio Miglior Nemico" (My Best Enemy).