(Adds comment from MP & Silva co-founder)
MILAN, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Italy’s soccer league has awarded international TV rights for top-flight Serie A games for 557 million euros ($713 million) for the next three seasons, almost 60 percent more than the previous auction, two sources close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.
MP & Silva, the sports rights company which has been managing and distributing Serie A rights outside Italy since 2004, won the bidding for the coming period running to 2018, beating rivals IMG and B4Capital, the sources said.
In a statement, MP & Silva confirmed it acquired the rights but did not give financial details.
MP & Silva co-founder Riccardo Silva said the loss of many star football players undescored how Italian soccer was loosing ground to other leagues, adding that the trend including in 2014 for international viewers had not been encouraging and that he hoped this could change.
He said MP & Silvia will be able to make up for the higher costs of the rights by increasing the price of bundled packages it offers through its network to broadcasters around the world.
The income of some 186 million euros per year on average will be welcome for financially strapped Italian clubs, facing balance sheet problems and the grim state of the game, beset for years by match-fixing scandals and stadium violence.
Domestic rights to Serie A games were awarded to Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV satellite broadcaster Sky Italia and Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset in a three-year deal worth 2.8 billion euros.
1 US dollar = 0.7821 euro Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Claudia Cristoferi; Editing by David Holmes and David Evans