German watchdog enforces ‘no single buyer’ rule for Bundesliga

Germany’s federal cartel office, the Bundeskartellamt, has today (Monday) confirmed that it will enforce a ‘no single buyer’ rule in the tender for the next set of domestic broadcast rights to the Bundesliga, the top division of German football.

The German Football League (DFL) last month kicked off the sales process for the next cycle of domestic rights for the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga, as well as the Supercup knockout competition. The rights will cover four seasons, from 2017-18 to 2020-21, but the exact terms of the packages on offer were subject to the ruling from the Bundeskartellamt.

The watchdog said in a statement today that it would be sufficient if the rights to show between 30 and 102 Bundesliga matches out of a total of 306 per season were awarded to an alternative buyer. The Bundeskartellamt said it had taken note of similar no single buyer policies in major European competitions such as the English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A.

Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, said: “For us it is important that the rules ensure that more than one bidder wins the rights. As long as only one party holds the live rights there is a risk that innovation, especially in the internet-based offering, is limited.”

The Bundeskartellamt’s decision means that pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland’s grip on Bundesliga rights will be weakened. In April 2012, Sky held off competition from telco Deutsche Telekom to acquire the key pay-television and mobile rights packages to the Bundesliga from 2013-14 to 2016-17. Sky paid €2.5bn ($2.7bn) to acquire all live pay-television rights packages, including the IPTV and mobile rights which Telekom had held in the previous cycle.

According to multiple reports, some of the Bundesliga rights will be made available to an internet viewing service. German website Kicker.de said the DFL will outline the terms of the tender packages at a press conference tomorrow (Tuesday).

It has previously been suggested that the DFL will wrap up its rights-sales process by the start of the Uefa Euro 2016 national team tournament, which commences on June 10 in France.