Austrian Bundesliga shrugs off talk of legal action over Sky rights deal

The Austrian Bundesliga, the top division of football in the country, has maintained its tender process for its latest domestic rights deal was completely valid amid reports public-service broadcaster ORF is considering legal action over the agreement.

Pay-television broadcaster Sky last month reached a deal to acquire exclusive rights for the Bundesliga. The deal, which covers domestic and international rights, will run for four seasons, from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

The Bundesliga announced that “a binding licence agreement” with Sky will be concluded shortly, with the agreement set to herald a reduction in ORF’s coverage. Sky will have rights to 195 games from the 12-team league and will also produce the coverage.

The broadcaster, which will also show online clips, will additionally sublicense rights on to a free-to-air channel for regular highlights and live coverage of four games per season. Three games will be shown on Saturdays and three matches will be broadcast on Sundays.

ORF is reportedly considering taking the matter to Austria’s federal competition authority, but Bundesliga chief executive Christian Ebenbauer has said the league is confident its sales process was legitimate.

“The tender we made has been reviewed by lawyers and experts several times, so we have no reservations about the tender,” Ebenbauer told the website.

Ebenbauer also denied that the Bundesliga and Sky will seek to restrict the match summaries available to free-to-air broadcasters. “It's not true that the Bundesliga set the target for a three-minute limit, we’re interested in the football fan getting a neat highlights summary,” he added.