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ORF signs three-year Extreme E deal, unlikely to extend Austrian Bundesliga live rights

PASCHING, AUSTRIA - JULY 5: Dominik Szoboszlai of Salzburg and Rene Renner of LASK during the tipico Bundesliga match between LASK and FC Red Bull Salzburg at Raiffeisen Arena on July 5, 2020 in Pasching, Austria. (Photo by Franz Kirchmayr/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

Austrian public-service broadcaster ORF has acquired rights for three years to Extreme E, the electric SUV off-road racing series, but is unlikely to seek an extension of its Austrian Bundesliga live match rights sublicense deal with pay-television broadcaster Sky Deustchland into the 2020-21 season.

The Extreme E deal runs from the competition’s inaugural season, in 2021, until 2023. ORF has live and highlights rights to all the component events.

The provisional calendar for next year’s competition, which is scheduled to begin in January, includes five events in Dakar (Senegal), Al-‘Ula (Saudi Arabia), Mustang District (Nepal), Kangerlussuaq (Greenland) and Santarém (Brazil).

ORF is the fifth European broadcaster to be announced by Extreme E after RTL (in the Netherlands), the BBC (UK), Mediaset (Italy) and BTRC (Belarus).

Extreme E also has broadcast deals in place with Fox Sports (US, Canada and the Caribbean)RDS (Canada), Fox Sports Asia (Southeast Asia), Fox Sports Australia, Sony India (Indian subcontinent)TVNZ (New Zealand)RTM (Malaysia), and Dubai Sports (Middle East and North Africa).

Last week, it was reported ORF and commercial broadcaster ServusTV will both broadcast coverage of Formula One from 2021 onwards, according to reports in Austria.

Austrian Bundesliga

However, ORF is unlikely to extend its Covid-19 related sublicensing of live Austrian Bundesliga matches from pay-television broadcaster Sky into next season due to financial constraints. It is reportedly required to make savings of €75m ($84.7m) in 2021.

ORF director general Alexander Wrabetz told local media: “In view of the financial situation mentioned, I do not expect that we will get into a negotiation situation for a new Bundesliga contract.”

The public broadcaster had acquired non-exclusive rights to 15 live matches on the restart of the competition after the Covid 19 suspension. All the matches were simulcast with Sky, which holds exclusive global rights to the league in a four-season deal, from 2018-19 to 2021-22, with an option for a further four seasons.

Sky had come under pressure from Austrian politicians to make some matches free-to-air at the league’s restart. It is understood ORF went into negotiations with Sky aiming to seal a sublicensing agreement till the end of the 2021-22 season. But due to the time pressure and some resistance from Sky, the public broadcaster settled for a short-term deal.

It was thought ORF had hoped to restart negotiations with Sky over a longer-term deal at a later date. However, the public broadcaster’s rights to the competition now look set to be restricted to highlights only until the end of 2021-22.