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DFL presses ahead with Bundesliga domestic rights tender

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

The Bundesliga’s domestic broadcast rights invitation to tender process is to carry on despite the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Speaking after a German Football League (DFL) ordinary assembly meeting yesterday, league chief executive Christian Seifert said that the sale of rights from 2021-22 to 2024-25 would continue.

He said: “Today we sent the documents as planned.”

Seifert said that a “large number” of candidates have “signalled that they would like to adhere to the process”.

The DFL was awaiting the final sign-off from the Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s federal cartel office, before sending out the bidding documents to the approved companies. However, the cartel office told the DPA news agency that it has still not issued its final verdict on the tender.

Seifert was speaking after it was decided to further postpone the top-tier Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga. The suspension of the leagues remains in place and league officials will meet again at the end of March with regards to the future match schedule.

The DFL said: “To this end, a further ordinary assembly is planned, at which it will then be possible to take both further developments in general and Uefa’s decision regarding a possible postponement of the European Championship into account. The DFL does not expect that it will be possible to resume playing matches on the first weekend in April.”

Uefa is meeting with European football stakeholders today to decide on a postponement of Euro 2020.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany jumped to 6,012 as of yesterday with the death toll rising to 13.

According to its initial schedule, the DFL planned to award the domestic media rights in the middle of May. Seifert said yesterday (Monday) that the issue of whether the auction is completed in May is now “not the most pressing”.

The DFL currently brings in €1.16bn ($1.28bn) 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).

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.

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

Six of the highlights packages are for free-to-air broadcasters with only package M, which offers highlights clips after the final whistle, aimed at pay-television broadcasters.

Package I contains the free-to-air highlights rights within the current ‘Sportschau’ broadcast window (from Saturday at 6:30pm). There are also two audio packages on offer with one for FM radio and one for internet and mobile transmission.