German cartel office ‘pushes for exclusivity alterations’ to Bundesliga tender

Germany’s federal cartel office, the Bundeskartellamt, has asked the Deutsche Fußball Liga to adjust its domestic tender for Germany’s Bundesliga, it has been reported, in order to prevent a pay-television provider or OTT service acquiring all pay-television packages exclusively.

The invitation to tender is thought to contain five live packages, four of which are targeted at pay-television broadcasters or subscription OTT platforms, with one free-to-air only.

The Bundeskartellamt wants the DFL to restrict the ability of a pay-television or OTT service to acquire all four packages exclusively, according to FAZ.

Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, told the newspaper: “The DFL has to present a marketing model that enables competition between different providers.

“A monopolist would have hardly any incentives to improve the quality of reporting and exploit the innovation potential, particularly on the internet.”

SportBusiness understands that the DFL is currently looking to launch the tender for domestic rights from 2021-22 to 2024-25 in the second half of February.

Christian Seifert, chief executive of the DFL has previously commented on the Bundesliga strategy to award rights to pay-television or subscription OTT platforms. He said: “If you need three subscriptions to fully consume the Bundesliga, that would, from our point of view, heavily strain the threshold of what is bearable.”

There has been an increased number of pay-television broadcasters in the German market, as along with the current domestic partners, there is also thought to be interest from telco Deutsche Telekom and retail internet giant Amazon. Both have made major football rights acquisitions in in the last six months.

In the previous domestic rights tender from 2017-18 to 2020-21, the Bundeskartellamt enforced a ‘no-single buyer’ rule, which prevented a broadcaster acquiring all live rights, despite complaints from pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland.

Sky acquired 266 exclusive live Bundesliga matches per season and international media group Discovery initially acquired 40, before selling them on to OTT streaming service DAZN before the start of the 2019-20 season.

Public-service broadcaster ZDF holds non-exclusive live rights to three live Bundesliga matches, the German Supercup and two relegation play-off matches between 2. Bundesliga and 3. Liga. Sky also holds rights to all 306 2. Bundesliga matches per season.

The DFL currently brings in €1.16bn ($1.29bn) per season from its domestic media-rights deals in the 2017-21 cycle. This includes further deals with public-service broadcaster ARD (highlights), sports broadcaster Sport1 (highlights), and DAZN (highlights clips).