The Serie A title race will come down to the final match day this weekend, with eternal rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan separated by just two points. After Juventus won nine consecutive Scudetti from 2011 to 2020, a dramatic ending to the season is a welcome turn of events. AC Milan is hoping to win their first Serie A title since 2010, while Inter are seeking their second successive league championship.
CBS Sports, via its streaming service Paramount+, will have a full afternoon of coverage on Sunday, broken up into two parts in order to focus on both the title race and relegation battle: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria and Sassuolo v.s AC Milan will both be at 12 p.m. ET, and Venezia vs. Cagliari and Salernitana vs. Udinese begin at 3 p.m. ET, with relegation or Serie A survival on the line.
If AC Milan are able to win their 19th Scudetto, the legendary club’s return to glory would coincide with the resurgence of Serie A coverage in the United States. CBS acquired the league’s broadcast rights from ESPN in 2021 in a reported three-year deal worth $75 million per season. The acquisition came after CBS had secured the rights to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League in 2020. In hindsight, the network’s acquisition of Serie A was both savvy and opportunistic, as a convergence of factors were developing for Serie A that added value to the product.
Once maligned as overly defensive and boring, the style of Italian football has gradually become more modern. Old school tactics have been replaced by new attacking ideologies that led to close to three goals per game during the 2021-2002 season. The Italian national team won Euro 2020 last summer, though that triumph will soon be overshadowed by the nation’s second consecutive missed World Cup.
For CBS, Serie A provided new content opportunities and a chance for the network to claim its own European domestic league property beyond the continental competitions. In talking to the CBS Serie A crew, there’s a sense that they’ve acquired a sleeping giant — not one that will compete with the audience pull of the Premier League, but a competition with all of the elements to become increasingly popular in the United States.
Serie A was accessible while with ESPN, but the league would benefit from a U.S. broadcast partner who could turn Serie A into a more complete product, with storytelling, boots on the ground coverage, and a dose of personality — much like what NBC has done to increase the popularity of the Premier League.
CBS has utilized an established and recognizable tone across its European football properties, with some tweaks to that strategy for Serie A. The network has taken some risks with their talent selection, combining seasoned professionals with some analysts who had little to no prior television experience. CBS has also placed a deliberate emphasis on social media, with a distinct style to their creative that has become a staple of their strategy.
Serie A needed a refresh. It’s a league that was founded in 1898 and its reputation has been damaged in the modern era by match-fixing scandals, corruption and defensive football. Italian clubs have continued to underperform in the Champions League, and Juventus’ Serie A domestic dominance didn’t help, either.
However, the end of Juve’s reign has presented an opportunity for CBS. Title races are great for ratings, and if Serie A clubs can elevate their play in Europe’s top two continental competitions, CBS will naturally reap the rewards.