FILE PHOTO: The Mediaset tower is seen in the Cologno Monzese district of Milan, Italy, April 7, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s top commercial broadcaster Mediaset plans to close its pay-TV and move the contents of a video streaming service after losing 80 percent of its paying customers in six months, a source close to the case said.
The move is part of a downsizing of the group, pay-TV unit, which is called Mediaset Premium, after years of losses and a failed sale to the French media group Vivendi.
A second source confirmed the transition to streaming, but was not able to provide details about the number of visitors.
After years of heavy spending to secure football rights as it with rival Sky Italia, Mediaset Premium than cut back on investments. Last year lost the rights to broadcast the Serie A and UEFA Champions League football matches, which leads to a large loss of subscribers.
The first source said Mediaset Premium customers had dwindled to just 300,000 customers by the beginning of this year from around 1.5 million in mid-2018, mostly due to football of the pay-TV offer.
Mediaset is controlled by the family of former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Embroiled in a legal battle with Vivendi over the failed Premium sale, Mediaset has shifted focus back to the core free-to-air business and decided at the end of July or expand in Europe.
It gives the remaining Premium clients notice of the channels’ switch-off of digital terrestrial tv at the beginning of May, the first source said.
Clients will be given the opportunity to migrate to a video-streaming app service which would be the largest part of the pay-TV channels, the content, the two sources said.
As part of a wider contract last year with Sky Italia, Mediaset Premium cinema and TV drama packages will continue to be available to customers of Comcast’s Sky Italia.
Reporting by Elvira Pollina; editing by Valentina Za and Susan Fenton