Promoted Merkel to replace Blask as DFL audiovisual rights director

The German Football League (DFL) has promoted Steffen Merkel to the role of director of audiovisual rights, replacing Holger Blask when he moves to the German Football Federation (DFB) this summer.

The 34-year-old Merkel will assume a position that oversees the tendering of domestic media rights, the Bundesliga’s national and international product management and the protection against piracy.

Merkel, who is to sit on the DFL management board, joined the league in 2014 from EBS Business School, the German research university for business and law, and has also worked for Boston Consulting Group, the global management consultancy.

Blask is to become the DFB’s managing director of marketing and sales on August 1 but is staying on at the Frankfurt-based DFL to oversee the league’s sale of domestic media rights from 2021-22 to 2024-25, a process set to kick off in earnest this month.

Having joined the DFL as manager of executive projects, Merkel was promoted to the position of head of corporate strategy at the start of 2018. At the same time, he also assumed the role of head of global operations at Bundesliga International, the league’s international rights sales arm.

He has worked on the preparation and implementation of the domestic media-rights tenders in both 2016 and again this year. Merkel was also involved in the development of the ‘DFL for Equity’ investment strategy and the introduction of virtual advertising in the Bundesliga.

Blask has also held supervisory board positions at Sportcast, the league’s production arm and Sportec Solutions, the official data supply venture with Deltatre. He joined the DFL in 2006 as head lawyer and became director of public affairs and international relations in 2012, heading up league offices in Berlin and Brussels.

The DFL this week release further details of the inventory on offer in the forthcoming domestic broadcast rights tender. Elements revealed include a total of 176 matches produced in 4K ultra-high-definition format each season, additional digital and mobile clips for pay-television broadcasters and the details of the ‘digital out-of-home’ package.

Along with the rights in Germany, the DFL has expanded the scope of its licensed territories to include Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the South Tyrol province in Italy.

The DFL plans to send out the tender documents to admitted participants later this month, following final sign-off from the Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s federal cartel office.