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Tv rights revenues: Serie A overtakes Liga and Bundesliga, but stadiums are still an issue
English clubs are the most televised and their players the best-paid in Europe, but Italian football is second in both the rankings. Better than Spanish and German leagues
by Federico Formica
Serie A is not the best European league anymore? Ok, that's true. But data say that reality is better than the perception Italians have about calcio. Unibet made an interesting comparison among the four main European leagues: Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A (maybe in a few years the French Ligue 1 should be included in studies like that). Results are unexpected in some cases, obvious in others.

 

Money prefers the Union Jack. English Premier League is by far the richest and the most attractive league, especially abroad. We already knew that, but let's analyze the data. The average TV audience for Barclays Premier League games is 12,3 M of viewers. In the second place there's Serie A Tim with 4,5 M of viewers. There's a huge gap, maybe impossible to recoup, but the reality is that – at least for who watches football from its couch - Serie A it's more attractive than Spanish Liga BBVA (2,2 M) and German Bundesliga (2M).

 

That fact reflects directly on the TV rights and players' wages. The more a league earns by broadcasters, the more its clubs are able to attract great players. Premier League earns €1,96 billions per year. Yes: billions. The gap with Serie A is a bit embarassing: Lega Calcio got €840 M by televisions for the new season, but Liga (€644 M) and Bundesliga (€485 M) make even worse. What does this mean? We could assume that Serie A still has its appeal towards Italian and fans around the world.

 

Serie A ends in the second place for the average wages as well. A Serie A player earn on average €2,1 M; in Premier League that amount grows up to €2,7 M. La Liga gets the third position only: €1,9M. That may sound unbelievable at a first glance (the best players in the world play in Spain), but it's quite normal. Huge salaries are exclusively Barcelona and Real Madrid's stuff. Other clubs have to content theirselves with the chips.

 

German passion. Ok, it's still entertaining to see a Serie A match from the couch. But it's an awful experience by the seats of a stadium. The majority of the Italian stadiums are old, uncomfortable and, let's say it: ugly. There are exceptions: the Juventus Stadium, that's turning two years in these days, is the newest and the nicest in Italy. And – not by chance - it's always jam-packed. San Siro is a nice football stadium, but lacks of a modern stadium's comforts.

 

The comparison with the other three main leagues is cruel: the average attendance in Serie A is 23.200. In Spain it is 27.500, in England 35.800 and in Germany 42.500. It's a matter of money? Not at all: in Italy the cheapest season tickets cost €190 on average. In Germany, where stadiums are full every sunday, the average cost of a season ticket it's €269 and in UK €543. Premier League is trying to change its audience, switching to the middle-class in spite of the poorest people. In Germany there are beautiful stadiums (money of the 2006's World Cup has been well spent) and a low-price ticket policy. The result? Playing at Signal Iduna stadium of Dortmund, with an astonishing yellow-wall behind you, is a nightmare if you don't play for Borussia Dortmund.

 

Social media what? It could seem a silly marker, but today a strong presence on social media is essential. And Italy does it wrong. Serie A Tim has collected 1M of like on Facebook, Premier League reached 7 millions and La Liga 2,6 millions. Bundesliga is tail-end: 910.000 fans by now despite the last Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

 

On Twitter things get even worse: Serie A has 73.000 followers only. Bundesliga has 200.000, Premier League 2,6 millions and Liga 1,1 million. At the moment, Calcio seems not able to reach the youngs, who rather prefer to support teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and, recently, Manchester City and Chelsea.

 

Italian football has a lot of work to do to become the best league in the world again. But its appeal has not completely run out. Newly arrived talents like Mario Gomez, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain could boost the rise.

Friday, September 20 th, 2013
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