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ORF in talks with Sky over live Austrian Bundesliga rights

Action from tipico Bundesliga match between Rapid Vienna and SV Mattersburg in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Johann Schwarz/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

Austrian public-service broadcaster ORF is in negotiations to secure live free-to-air rights to the Austrian Bundesliga when the competition resumes after the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

ORF, which currently holds rights to weekend highlights and previously held live rights, has been in talks with pay-television broadcaster Sky, which holds the rights in a long-running deal from 2018-19 onwards.

ORF is ready to pay as much as €5m ($5.5m) for free-to-air rights to one live match of its choice from each of the remaining ten match weeks, according to Austria’s Kurier newspaper.

Hans-Peter Trost, ORF’s head of sport, told the newspaper that time is “running out” to reach an agreement but that he is “not pessimistic” and that such negotiations are “tough”.

The league is scheduled to return on June 2 with behind-closed-doors matches held every three days to clear the backlog. Kick-off times for the fixtures have not yet been defined as broadcast talks continue.

It is claimed that ORF’s talks with Sky concern not only the remaining 2019-20 matchdays but also free-to-air rights next season.

ORF, which previously offered a live Austrian Bundesliga match every Sunday, negotiated a highlights agreement with Sky as the pay-television broadcaster agreed various free-to-air agreements from 2018-19 onwards.

Telekom Austria’s A1 IPTV platform picked up rights to four live matches per season and deals were also struck with media group Mediengruppe Österreich; and Austria-based streaming service Laola1.

In neighbouring Germany, Sky Deutschland has opted to offer free access to its ‘Konferenz’ – the broadcasting of live action from various simultaneous matches in a single broadcast – as the German Bundesliga returned. As a result, the broadcaster last week registered record audiences as the action returned.