DFL and Sky negotiating Bundesliga media-rights payments

The German Football League (DFL) is in ongoing discussions with its domestic broadcast rights-holders as it seeks to reach a consensus with pay-television broadcaster Sky over the final instalment of this season’s media rights payments.

The DFL is in talks with Sky over how best to resolve the issues surrounding the postponement of the league due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the current domestic rights contracts, from 2017-18 to 2020-21, Sky broadcasts 266 exclusive live Bundesliga matches and all 306 matches from the second-tier 2. Bundesliga matches per season.

SportBusiness understands that, under the terms of the contract, Sky does not have to pay the DFL if there is no content.

However, the DFL is thought to be confident that a solution can be found. It has worked with Sky for almost 30 years, with the broadcaster – previously known as Premiere – having shown its first live match in 1991.

The situation contrasts that of in France, where a war of words has erupted between French pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus and the French Professional League (LFP) over domestic media rights payments. Canal Plus is refusing to pay an upcoming €110m ($120m) instalment due to the Covid 19-related suspension of fixtures.

When contacted by SportBusiness, Sky Deutschland said: “We are in constant dialogue with our long-standing partner DFL, especially with regards to the current situation in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga. We are actively discussing constructive solutions, including for license payments and their potential timing.”

It is thought one potential solution could be that Sky could bring forward its first instalment of next season’s payment to easy cash flow issues.

The DFL currently brings in €1.16bn per season from its domestic media-rights deals in the 2017-21 cycle. It has recently launched an invitation to tender for rights from 2021-22 to 2024-25 but, due to Covid-19, the award of the rights has been postponed from the original May target.

Subscription streaming service DAZN broadcasts 40 matches from the league. It acquired rights as part of a wide-ranging agreement with media group Discovery-owned Eurosport, which first acquired the package of rights in the last tender.

DAZN could not be reached today when approached for comment by SportBusiness.

Media rights income is extremely important the clubs in the league, and the DFL is working closely with clubs from the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga. In its recently-published DFL Economic report, the league outlined that media rights accounted for the highest proportion of the Bundesliga clubs’ turnover in 2018-19, contributing €1.48bn and just under 37 per cent of the total. This was a jump of over €200m on the previous year.

A general assembly between the clubs will be held remotely on March 31 to help the DFL understand the financial status of its clubs. Top-flight clubs are in comparatively robust financial health compared to those in some European leagues, but Covid-19 could have a much greater impact on 2. Bundesliga clubs.

Last week, the ‘big four’ Bundesliga clubs (Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen) pledged to provide €20m to support clubs in the top tier and the second-tier 2. Bundesliga amid the outbreak.

The DFL is currently working on solutions on how to finish the season if possible. The league hopes to be able to complete the season in behind-closed-doors matches, but are planning for all scenarios.

There are additional Bundesliga rights deals with public-service broadcaster ARD (highlights), sports broadcaster Sport1 (highlights), and a direct deal with DAZN (highlights clips). It is unknown whether DAZN, Sport1 or ARD has sought similar negotiations.