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Amazon makes first major football play in Germany with Champions League package

Online retail giant Amazon has picked up a package of exclusive Uefa Champions League rights in Germany for the new 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle.

It is thought that Amazon has acquired the ‘A1’ package, which comprises the top-pick Tuesday evening match. Uefa, through its exclusive club competition sales agent Team Marketing, launched a tender in Germany on October 30, with a bid deadline of December 3.

SportBusiness Media understands that there have now been two rounds of bidding, with a third-round of bidding set to be held today (Tuesday). It is thought the second round took place on December 6, but the package Amazon is thought to have acquired was done so in the first round.

Amazon announced the news on Twitter this morning, saying that, “from 2021, Amazon customers will see the top games on Tuesday”.

Champions League rights in the current cycle, from 2018-19 to 2020-21, are currently held by Sky Deutschland and streaming service DAZN. Sky initially acquired rights from Uefa directly, but subsequently sublicensed a significant portion of its Champions League rights to DAZN. The coverage of the elite clubs competition moved exclusively behind a paywall in 2018 after public broadcaster ZDF was unable to hold on to its rights package.

Amazon has actively sought out live sports rights in Germany over the last 18 months, mainly targeting tennis such as the ATP Tour and Wimbledon, but has been fought off by Sky.

The retail giant does hold radio rights to Germany’s Bundesliga in a deal worth €5m ($5.54m) per year, and added Champions League radio rights in Germany in 2017-18.

However, the new deal for Champions League rights represents its first premium broadcast rights acquisition for the most popular sport in the country.

This is not Amazon’s first high-profile acquisition of premium football content in one of the biggest European markets as it successfully picked up a package of English Premier League rights, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, in the UK last year. Its recent coverage of the league led to a record number of new sign-ups to its Prime subscription service, according to the online retailer.

Amazon’s latest move in Germany could concern both Sky and DAZN, which are also preparing themselves for a tender for domestic rights to the Bundesliga, from 2021-22, early next year. Both are current domestic broadcasters of the league. Alongside Amazon, telco Deutsche Telekom has already expressed its interest in Bundesliga rights.

The arrival of Amazon in the German sports broadcast landscape will also mean that consumers will have to take out another subscription to watch top-tier football. On Sunday, Christian Seifert, chief executive of the Deutsche Fußball Liga, said that he was wary of having too many domestic pay-television partners when the DFL agrees its next cycle of Bundesliga domestic media-rights deals.

He told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag: “If you need three subscriptions to fully consume the Bundesliga, that would, from our point of view, heavily strain the threshold of what is bearable.”