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DFL postpones rights tender as season pushed back again

DFL CEO Christian Seifert speaks after DFL general assembly on March 16, 2020 in Frankfurt (Photo by Arne Dedert/Pool/Getty Images)

The German Football League (DFL) has postponed its invitation to tender for domestic Bundesliga broadcast rights from 2021-22 to 2024-25 due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The DFL’s executive committee met by video conference yesterday (Tuesday) and, along with delaying the tender process, decided to recommend a further suspension of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga until April 30 at least.

On Friday, the Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s federal cartel office, gave the all clear for the DFL to proceed with its rights auction, which the league was initially looking to tie up by May.

The league said yesterday evening: “Instead of the originally intended date in May, an allocation is planned from this June onwards…

“…it is the objective of the DFL to focus on meeting the current challenges first.”

Earlier this month, league chief executive Christian Seifert said that the tender would continue after a “large number” of candidates “signalled that they would like to adhere to the process”.

Bidding documents were sent to approved companies last week. The bidding process was originally due to take place between April 27 and May 8 as the league aimed to wrap up the new agreements before the (now postponed) Euro 2020 tournament.

Speaking last week, Seifert said that the issue of sticking to its initial target – of completing the auction in May – was “not the most pressing”.

The DFL currently brings in €1.16bn ($1.23bn) per season from its domestic media-rights deals.

Under the current domestic rights contracts, pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland broadcasts 266 exclusive live Bundesliga matches per season, while subscription streaming service DAZN broadcasts 40 matches. Discovery-owned Eurosport acquired a package of rights in the last tender but last year sublicensed them to DAZN as part of a wider agreement. Sky also holds rights to all 306 2. Bundesliga matches per season.

There are additional deals with public-service broadcaster ARD (highlights), sports broadcaster Sport1 (highlights), and a direct deal with DAZN (highlights clips).

On Friday, the Bundeskartellamt indicated that its aim is to promote competition between both traditional and OTT streaming platforms in the tender. It said: “It was important to us that not one bidder alone can exclusively acquire all live rights, who then faces the viewer as a monopolist.”

The proposed tender specifies a “no exclusive owner rule”. This means that if a single pay-television buyer acquires rights to packages A to D (see below), it would have to share rights to two packages with an internet and mobile provider on a co-exclusive basis.

At the start of the month, the DFL unveiled further details of the rights in the tender process, including a total of 176 matches produced in 4K ultra-high definition format each season, additional digital and mobile clips for pay-television broadcasters and the details of the ‘digital out-of-home’ package.

Along with the rights in Germany, the DFL has expanded the scope of the licensed territories to include Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the South Tyrol province in Italy. In addition to regular-season Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga matches, the inventory on offer also includes the DFL Supercup and the relegation play-offs.

The new tender will feature seven live packages (Packages A to G) and seven highlights and clips packages (Packages H to N), as reported last month by SportBusiness.

New aspects that form part of the rights on offer include additional clips for digital and mobile usage within the live pay-television rights packages. These comprise in-match video and audio clips, along with on-demand clips that can be shown after the final whistle. Extensive club marketing rights as part of the live package are also offered.

Package details

Proposed alterations from the previous ITT include: The additional three live free-to-air matches on offer; the removal of Monday night matches; and top-tier Friday night matches will be sold together with Sunday matches.

The seven live packages on offer are:

  • A – Pay-television rights to 166 Bundesliga matches (35 Konferezen) on Saturday 3:30pm, Tuesday/Wednesday 8:30pm
  • B – Pay-television rights to 170 individual Bundesliga matches on Saturday 3:30pm, Tuesday/Wednesday 6:30pm, 8:30pm (plus relegation playoff matches)
  • C – Pay-television rights to 33 Bundesliga matches on Saturday 6:30pm (plus DFL Super Cup)
  • D – Pay-television rights to 106 Bundesliga matches on Friday 8:30pm, Sunday 3:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:30pm
  • E – Free-to-air rights to 9 matches comprised of Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga relegation playoffs, Super Cup and regular-season matches
  • F – Pay-television rights to 275 2. Bundesliga matches (98 Konferezen) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (plus relegation playoff matches)
  • G – Pay-television or free-to-air rights to 33 Bundesliga matches on Saturday 8:30pm

Matches in package A are for the rights to broadcast 35 live ‘Konferenz’ programmes per season, the broadcasting of live action from various simultaneous matches in a singular broadcast.