German commercial broadcaster RTL has extended its rights to the Formula One motor-racing championship and has also acquired rights to the Uefa Europa League club football competition from the 2018-19 season.
RTL’s new F1 rights deal will run across the three seasons spanning 2018 to 2020 and comes after speculation that Formula One may seek to replicate its strategy in other key European markets of securing coverage weighted towards pay-television.
RTL and pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland extended their F1 rights in Germany for two years, from 2016 to 2017, under a deal struck in August 2015. The future of Sky as an F1 partner is unclear at the present time.
RTL’s new contract includes exclusive free-to-air rights for the entire race weekends. RTL first started broadcasting F1 from 1984 to 1988. Following a hiatus in coverage, RTL has covered the sport continuously since 1991.
Commenting on the deal, Frank Hoffmann, RTL’s managing director for sport, told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “(This was) anything but usual if you look at other sports or other markets in Europe. We have made Formula One big here, it’s an exciting event for millions of people and it has become an important part of our brand.”
Meanwhile, RTL has secured exclusive free-to-air rights to the Europa League for the three seasons spanning 2018-19 to 2020-21. RTL and its sister channel Nitro will provide 15 live games per season. This includes six games from the group stage with guaranteed German participation and matches from the knockout round through to the final.
RTL will also show highlights of the secondary club competition of European football’s governing body Uefa. DAZN, the OTT service operated by digital sports media company Perform, in October confirmed it had secured rights to the Europa League in Germany and Austria across the same three-season window.
DAZN will show all 205 matches per season, 190 of which will be on an exclusive basis. Champions League rights for the next cycle in Germany and Austria have already been acquired by pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland. Sky subsequently agreed a sublicensing agreement to share coverage of the Champions League in both territories with DAZN.
Hoffmann added that the Europa League rights are “also particularly interesting because the Uefa Champions League will, as we all know, completely disappear to pay-TV from mid-2018. The fans of international club football will therefore soon only be able to watch the games on free-to-air TV on our channel, live and free-of-charge.”