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NFL reaps benefit of growing fandom in DACH with RTL and DAZN deals

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • NFL set to earn over $20m per season from new deals in DACH, from 2023-27
  • Fierce competition between RTL and ProSieben sees free-to-air value treble
  • DAZN increases pay-television rights fee amid interest from Sky and Amazon

The NFL is understood to have more than doubled its media rights income in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, capitalising on intense competition amid the league’s snowballing popularity across the region.

Multiple sources told SportBusiness Media that commercial broadcaster RTL will pay between $10m (€10.1m) and $13m per season for exclusive free-to-air rights to 80 games each year across the NFL’s regular season and playoffs. The five-season deal runs from 2023 to 2027 and sees RTL unseat the league’s incumbent free-to-air broadcaster ProSieben.

RTL will broadcast live coverage of up to three games per week across its eponymous commercial broadcaster and digital-terrestrial channel Nitro. It will also show exclusive coverage of one game per week on its RTL+ subscription streaming platform.

The deal, which also covers rights in Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, represents a significant increase on the $3.5m per season paid by ProSieben in its current three-season deal from 2020 to 2022.

Multi-platform broadcaster DAZN, meanwhile, is understood to have agreed an increase in rights fee from about $5m per season in its current deal, from 2020 to 2022, to about $10m per season in a new three-season deal from 2023 to 2025. The increase was driven by strong interest from pay-television operator Sky and ecommerce giant Amazon for the NFL’s subscription platform rights in DACH.

As part of its deal, DAZN will hold exclusive rights to two Sunday games each round (kicking off at 19:00 and 22:25 local time) throughout the regular season, as well as rights to all Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games. It will also carry the English-language NFL RedZone programme on an exclusive basis, as well as German-language version NFL ENDZN.

The NFL is set to stage its first-ever regular-season game in Germany at Allianz Arena in Munich on November 13. It will then alternate between Munich and Frankfurt for annual regular-season games until 2025. DAZN and RTL will both have live rights to the Super Bowl and NFL Germany games held each season.

RTL snatches free-to-air rights

There was fierce competition between incumbent media group ProSieben and RTL for the free-to-air package.

The NFL invited offers from broadcasters during several months of informal talks in the first half of this year. These included discussions with both ProSieben and RTL at Super Bowl LVI in February. The approach marked a change from the one taken in 2019 when the league discreetly renewed its deals with ProSieben and DAZN.

As the NFL’s free-to-air partner in the region for the past 10 years – during which time the pair have worked closely to grow the league’s audience – ProSieben was thought to be in a strong position to renew its rights for another term. However, the NFL’s ever-growing popularity in DACH and personnel changes at its NFL International office in London meant the league was looking for a significantly improved deal in terms of both exposure and fee.

In response, ProSieben is believed to have proposed showing more matches on its flagship channel and eventually offered to treble its rights fee to around $10m per season after its three opening bids were rebuffed.

But, as the bigger of the media groups, it is understood that RTL was able to offer a slightly larger fee and guarantee more exposure. This will include broadcasting shoulder programming throughout the week and cross-promoting the league via its other media outlets.

SportBusiness Media understands that last month’s announcement of the deal between the NFL and RTL has upset executives at ProSieben. While ProSieben is not thought to have had a matching rights clause in its current deal with the league, sources say the broadcaster expected a final opportunity to counter any rival bids. Instead, it is thought that ProSieben was informed of RTL’s deal on the eve of its announcement.

DAZN fends off pay-television interest

Local sources tell SportBusiness Media that the NFL’s pay-television rights in DACH drew interest from Sky and Amazon, but DAZN always looked certain to renew its agreement with the league. SportBusiness Media understands the NFL received at least one serious proposal from a rival bidder before deciding to renew with DAZN.

Interest in the pay-television rights has traditionally been tempered by the existence of the NFL Game Pass streaming service, which provides live coverage of every NFL game. Broadcasters with NFL rights in Germany are expected to promote the service to their audiences.

DAZN first acquired the rights in the region in a three-year deal from 2015 to 2017. That deal was thought to be worth about $2m per season. DAZN subsequently extended the deal to cover 2018 and 2019, before striking its current three-year agreement from 2020 to 2022. DAZN has also shown the NFL in Canada since 2017 and recently renewed its rights in the market for another season.

Amazon, meanwhile, has exclusive rights in the US to Thursday Night Football as part of a $1.2bn-per-season agreement. It formerly broadcast Thursday night games in DACH as part of a global simulcast agreement with previous US rights-holder Fox from 2018 to 2021.

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