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DAZN seals Bundesliga sublicensing deal to end rights uncertainty

Subscription OTT streaming service DAZN will broadcast Bundesliga matches in Germany next season, following uncertainty caused by the impact of a rights dispute between the German Football League (DFL) and international media group Discovery.

DAZN will broadcast 45 matches in the 2020-21 season after sealing a sublicensing agreement with Discovery. The rights include 40 matches from the Bundesliga regular season, four relegation playoff matches and the DFL Supercup.

In 2017, Discovery acquired rights to the 45-match package from the DFL in a contract running from 2017-18 to 2020-21. However, ahead of the 2019-20 season, it sublicensed all its rights to DAZN for the final two seasons of the deal.

When the Bundesliga was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Discovery attempted to terminate its contract with the DFL, meaning that the 10 matches remaining in the 2019-20 season in the rights package were without a broadcaster.

The DFL agreed two short-term deals in Germany with both DAZN and online retail giant Amazon for non-exclusive rights.

However, earlier this month the German Institution of Arbitration (DIS), decided that the termination by Discovery was invalid. This led to question marks over who would broadcast the 45-match package in 2020-21, due to doubts over the validity of DAZN’s sublicensing deal with Discovery.

In 2020-21, Amazon Prime subscribers will continue have access to the matches but will have to pay an additional add-on cost.

The 45-match package has been available to Amazon Prime subscribers across the last three seasons. This was initially the case in 2017-18 and 2018-19 because Amazon had a distribution agreement with Discovery for its Eurosport 1 and 2 channels. And secondly, in 2019-20, this was thanks to an agreement between DAZN and Amazon.

Earlier this year, the DFL awarded domestic rights for the 2021-22 to 2024-25 cycle to the Bundesliga and the second-tier 2. Bundesliga, with DAZN significantly boosting the number of live matches from the top-tier it will broadcast, from 45 to 106.

DAZN has invested heavily in sports rights in Germany over the last 12 months, also securing rights to the majority of Uefa Champions League rights in the country, from 2021-22.

Last week it was reported that DAZN Group is looking into ways of securing new investment of as much as $1bn (€845m).