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DFL chief keen to end German football’s ‘no-single-buyer’ rights rule

Deutsche Fußball Liga chief executive Christian Seifert has hinted that the organising body of the top two divisions of German football will push to remove the ‘no-single-buyer’ rule ahead of the auction of its next set of broadcast rights in April 2020.

“I have a big question mark as to whether we need a ‘no-single-buyer’ rule again,” Seifert said. “Given the technical possibilities associated with the content strategies of new or existing market participants, there is enough competition.”

The ‘no-single-buyer’ rule was introduced by the Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s competition authority, in 2016. Consequently, live rights for the current four-season 2017-18 to 2020-21 broadcast rights cycle were split between pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland, sports broadcaster Eurosport, and public-service broadcaster ZDF.

Highlights rights were acquired by public-service broadcaster ARD and sports broadcaster Sport1. Streaming service DAZN picked up clips rights.

The DFL is now assessing its strategy for the 2021-22 season onwards. With fans currently requiring two pay-television subscriptions, Sky and Eurosport, to watch all matches live, Seifert told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that the rights could again revert to a single buyer.

“The call for tenders should begin at the end of the year. The auction will start at the end of the first quarter of 2020 and [the rights] will be auctioned off in April,” he said.

Seifert reiterated that the DFL is keen to ensure the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga retain a strong presence on free-to-air television.

“We have always insisted on a good mix between free-to-air TV and pay-TV. Football in free TV is important not only for the sponsors, who want to have a wide reach, but above all for the broad anchoring of football in society.”