On 11 April 2016, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced that the German League Association (Ligaverband) and the German Football League (Deutsche Fußball Liga, DFL) have committed that no single pay-TV buyer can win exclusive live broadcasting rights to Bundesliga league games for the 2017/2018–2020/2021 seasons. The FCO made this “No Single Buyer” rule a precondition to green-light the proposed tendering model. Currently Sky Deutschland holds all domestic live broadcasting rights for Germany’s top football leagues until the end of the 2016/2017 season, having won the last tender in 2012.

Sources say that the DFL opposed the “No Single Buyer” rule, but the FCO stood firm in this effort to foster competition. FCO president Andreas Mundt voiced concerns that, as long as there was only one holder of live rights in the market, innovative competition—especially from internet-based broadcasters—might be restricted.

The DFL will be inviting tenders for 17 different audiovisual media rights packages, eight of which concern domestic live broadcasting. The tendering model sets forth that if one bidder acquires all live broadcasting rights packages to the Bundesliga games, an over-the-top (OTT) package will be offered. This OTT package will include the rights for live transmissions of three games per match day (one on Saturday, two on Sunday), but only via the web and the mobile web. So:

  • either the rights to transmit Bundesliga live games across all technologies—satellite, DTT (digital terrestrial transmission), cable/IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), web and mobile web—are allocated among different providers
  • or, in case of a single buyer of all live packages, one third of the games can be watched via web and mobile-web streaming on a second provider’s platform.

If the live packages were divided among different providers, consumers would not necessarily need to subscribe to more than one pay-TV service to view all of the games. A single provider could still offer all live broadcasts by sublicensing any rights it did not win itself.

What’s Next?

The DFL said on its website that it aims to conclude the auction of Bundesliga live broadcasting rights for the 2017/2018–2020/2021 seasons in early June 2016, before the start of the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament. Experts expect the DFL to generate 1.1–1.5 billion euros per season from the broadcasting rights.

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