Amazon takes down paywall for live Bundesliga radio coverage

Online retailer Amazon has opted to make its live radio coverage of the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and Uefa Champions League available free to users in Germany.

Amazon holds live radio rights to the Bundesliga from 2017-18 to 2020-21 in a deal worth around €5m ($5.6m) per year and has until now made the games available to Amazon Prime subscribers paying a monthly fee of €7.99 (or €69 per year).

However, Amazon has now opted to open up its football offering, seemingly in a bid to market its Alexa digital assistant technology and Echo speakers.

Listeners in Germany will now just need an Amazon account to listen to games from the top-tier Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga, along with the national knockout clubs tournament and Champions League matches featuring German sides.

The free offering took effect with Amazon’s live radio coverage of the DFB Pokal first-round games at the weekend.

In addition to the live matches, Amazon has also introduced a new weekly Bundesliga show that brings listeners news, interviews and the “most emotional moments from each match day.”

Public broadcaster ARD is the rights-holder of the Bundesliga’s FM radio rights until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

In 2016, Amazon also struck an agreement with the DFL, the German football league, to make its video-on-demand offering available via Amazon’s digital store in Germany.

Rights to Champions League games featuring German sides were added ahead of the 2017-18 group stages and coverage was made available to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers. Germany’s representatives in this season’s Champions League are Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.