DFL strikes payment deals with ‘almost all’ domestic broadcasters

The German Football League (DFL) has reached an agreement with “almost all” of its domestic rights-holding broadcasters over instalment payments for this season’s Bundesliga media rights.

The DFL announced the development today as it laid out plans for a potential return to action in May, following the shutdown prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following an extraordinary general meeting today (Thursday), the DFL said that, after intensive discussions in recent weeks, it has “reached agreements with almost all national media partners regarding the expected payments”.

The statement continued: “In this way, the DFL will be able to provide liquidity to all clubs in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga gradually and depending on the further continuation of the season until the planned end of the season on 30 June.”

However, the DFL stressed that, if the season cannot start again or is cancelled, then “precise mechanisms will be used to return payments” to broadcasters.

SportBusiness understands that the DFL has reached agreements with all domestic rights-holding broadcasters except Discovery, the US-based broadcaster that owns Eurosport. An analysis of the agreements now struck by the DFL will be published tomorrow (Friday) by SportBusiness Media.

It was reported last week that the DFL had reached a breakthrough in negotiations with pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland. That deal would lead to Sky paying a reduction on the latest €255m ($276m) instalment fee it was due to pay, according to the Bild newspaper.

Sky broadcasts 266 live Bundesliga matches exclusively each season and all 306 matches from the second-tier 2. Bundesliga.

Talks over the broadcast rights payments were being held with as many as 13 of the 36 clubs from the top two divisions said to be under threat of insolvency.

It was also claimed last week that public-service broadcasters ARD and ZDF had reached a deal with the DFL over the payment of their latest media-rights fee instalment.

ZDF airs six live matches per season, which include three live Bundesliga matches, the German Super Cup and relegation matches between 2. Bundesliga and third-tier 3. Liga clubs. ARD holds rights to Saturday-evening highlights, which it showcases on its iconic Sportschau programme.

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 the awarding of rights has been postponed from the original May target.

Subscription streaming service DAZN holds rights to 40 live matches from the Bundesliga following a wide-ranging agreement with Discovery, which first acquired the package in the initial tender process.

The DFL also has deals with sports broadcaster Sport1 (highlights), and a direct deal with DAZN (highlights clips).

The league, in its recently-published DFL Economic report, outlined that in the in 2018-19 season, media rights accounted for the highest proportion of the Bundesliga clubs’ turnover, contributing €1.48bn and just under 37 per cent of the total.