Following the Bundesliga’s new media-rights deal with ESPN in the United States, which begins in 2020, the German league’s chief executive Christian Seifert has revealed he was disappointed by the league’s coverage on current partner Fox Sports.
Seifert said the lack of consistency in scheduling and programming on Fox – between the main Fox network and cable channels FS1 and FS2 – made it difficult for Bundesliga fans in the US to follow the league.
“I was a little bit disappointed from Fox as a partner because it’s hard as a US Bundesliga fan to get used to the Bundesliga if you play one time on that channel and one time on [another] channel and then again on that channel,” Seifert told SportBusiness at the league’s headquarters in Frankfurt.
Bundesliga International, the league’s international rights sales arm, has secured a six-season deal with ESPN, from 2020-21 to 2025-26, worth about $30m (€27.1m) per season. This is over four times the amount Fox Sports allocated for the US in its current deal, from 2015-16 to 2019-20, which is thought to be worth in the region of $7m per season.
Under the terms of the new deal, ESPN+, the sports media giant’s direct-to-consumer sports streaming service, will feature all 306 Bundesliga matches live and in on-demand replay, in both English and Spanish. The inventory also comprises the DFL-Supercup, relegation play-off matches, the second-tier 2. Bundesliga, and on-demand shoulder programming such as highlights and magazine shows.
There will be at least four matches shown on linear television – on ESPN or ESPN2 – each season, while highlights will be available in various ESPN programmes and on the ESPN App and ESPN.com. The ESPN deal marks a sharp reduction in the amount of linear exposure compared to the Fox deal.
“I hope that with a long-term contract, with a dedicated editorial approach [at ESPN] I think we can improve our position. We have not given up on [linear TV in the US], this is just the next episode,” Seifert added.