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Bayern and Hamburg chiefs call for Bundesliga media rights change

Senior club officials from Bayern Munich and Hamburg have called for an overhaul in the Bundesliga’s broadcast rights model and a change in the method of revenue distribution for the top division of German football.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of Bayern Munich, has said the Bundesliga should switch from its current centralised rights model and allow clubs to market their rights on an individual basis.

Rummenigge believes Bundesliga champions Bayern could quadruple its media rights revenues through selling its own rights, adding that such a change would also benefit other clubs if a solidarity scheme was established alongside a new model.

“With this model, the Bundesliga could make itself better – including for the smaller clubs,” Rummenigge told German publication Manager Magazin. “If central marketing fails to provide the hoped-for revenue and growth, you should try a new allocation principle.”

Rummenigge said Bayern will approach the Federal Cartel Office, Bundeskartellamt, to examine the merits of a decentralised system. He also repeated his concerns over the dominant position that pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland enjoys in Germany.

In April 2012, Sky held off competition from telco Deutsche Telekom to acquire the key pay-television and mobile rights packages to the Bundesliga from 2013-14 to 2016-17.

Sky acquired all live pay-television rights packages, including the IPTV rights which Telekom held in the previous cycle. Sky also acquired the mobile rights which Telekom had held. An auction for the four seasons of the Bundesliga from 2017-18 to 2020-21 is expected by the middle of 2016 and Rummenigge states the rights would be better distributed amongst multiple providers.

He added: “The monopoly of Sky obviously leads to the fact that prices in Germany do not move in the long term.”

Meanwhile, Hamburg chief executive Dietmar Beiersdorfer has called for the Bundesliga’s television revenue distribution system to also take into account individual clubs’ popularity through the means of television ratings.

The Bundesliga currently assigns media rights revenues through a model based on the average league positions of clubs over five seasons. Based on this system, German newspaper Bild said Hamburg will only rank 14th in the revenue distribution table for 2015-16 with a payment of €25.76m ($28.4m).

This compares to newly-promoted Darmstadt 98’s payment of €20.19m and Bayern’s table-topping allocation of €40.48m. “In our view, the ratings and the attractiveness of the club should not be disregarded,” Beiersdorfer told Bild. He added: “We are one of the top five most-watched clubs in Germany.”

Bild added that Hamburg ranks fifth in a table of Sky ratings for average audience per game, below only Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke 04. “The appeal (of clubs) has to be reflected in the future also in the distribution of TV money,” Beiersdorfer added.