RAI Italia to Broadcast Serie A Soccer Internationally

New Corp's Sky-Italia retains the domestic rights, but the move could be a money maker for cash-strapped RAI.

ROME – Italian state broadcaster RAI, prohibited from showing live Serie A soccer broadcasts on its domestic free-to-air transmissions will be allowed to broadcast them to its international subscribers after an agreement with soccer brokerage company MP & Silva.

Domestically, RAI is limited to showing game highlights and only after the fact. During the games, commentators can pass on news about games and discuss developments. They can even show scenes from the stadiums, but are not allowed to show live footage from the game itself.

The deal with MP & Silva means that RAI Italia -- the part of RAI formerly known as RAI International -- can show full games in its broadcasts outside of Italy. RAI Italia estimates that it has around 200,000 customers in Central and South America, around 180,000 in the U.S. and Canada, and around 50,000 in Australia and New Zealand.

MP & Silva acquired three year rights to broadcast games from Serie A, the highest division of professional soccer in Italy, for €350 million ($430 million), around 30 percent more than the previous contract.  It was not immediately revealed how much RAI paid for the international broadcast rights.

Italy’s Serie A is considered to be one of the most competitive professional soccer leagues in the world, and nailing down international broadcast rights could prove to be a profitable decision for RAI, which has suffered through economic troubles in recent years.

Serie A games are broadcast domestically by Sky Italia, a subsidiary of News Corp.