Italy’s Serie A has decided to launch an Arabic-language channel on YouTube to broadcast games of the new 2021-22 season, in the absence of a deal with local broadcasters. Former rights holder beIN Sports has been reluctant to renew the rights, because of the alleged lack of effort of the Italian football league to fight piracy in the region, and its decision to stage the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. Germany’s Bundesliga has also been left without broadcasters in MENA since the end of 2019-20 season and the expiry of the agreement with beIN, but did not turn to YouTube.
In recent years, YouTube has proven to offer a complementary and flexible service to rights owners' deals with more traditional TV broadcasters. Leagues and federations frequently resort to YouTube to easily reach wider audiences to showcase and promote their sports and/or competitions, either through the release of highlights, live streaming of minor leagues (such as youth sports by FIBA for instance) and one-time events (for example, BT Sport chose YouTube as its free-to-air partner to stream the Champions League final in the UK), or to provide coverage of the games in dark markets. UEFA has recently decided to push those strategic considerations even further, by entering a partnership with DAZN and YouTube to show the Women's Champions League globally. Starting this September, all games will be broadcasted on a free-to-air basis on DAZN's YouTube channel (and on DAZN's own platform as well) for the two seasons, while only 19 of them will be freely available from 2023 to 2025. Both UEFA and DAZN can thus leverage and take benefit from the steady growth in the number of YouTube's users globally.