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RTL seals exclusive Europa League, Europa Conference League rights in Germany

Commercial broadcaster RTL has acquired exclusive rights in Germany to the Uefa Europa League and the newly-created Uefa Europa Conference League for the new cycle, from 2021-22 to 2023-24.

RTL has said it will broadcast both club competitions on its free-to-air channels RTL and Nitro, as well as on its streaming service TVNow. There will be a total of 282 matches per season across both competitions.

Bernd Reichart, chief executive officer of Mediengruppe RTL, told German newspaper Handelsblatt, that the move was a “strong statement in times when the bidding competition for sports rights is more intense than ever and fewer and fewer games are freely accessible to fans”.

In the current 2018-19 to 2020-21 cycle, RTL holds free-to-air Europa League rights in the country to 15 live matches per season and highlights, which it shows on its RTL and Nitro channels. Broadcasts on TVNow for the 2021-24 cycle will be an innovation for the company’s exploitation of the rights.

Pay-television rights to all Europa League live matches and highlights in the current cycle are held by streaming service DAZN.

Uefa, through its exclusive club competition sales agent Team Marketing, launched a tender for both competitions in Germany on October 30, with a bid deadline of December 3.

A tender for rights in the same cycle to its top-tier Champions League was sent on the same day. Champions League rights have been awarded to DAZN, online retail giant Amazon, and public-service broadcaster ZDF.

Last week, RTL acquired the rights to German national men’s team friendly matches in March against Spain and Italy.

This is in addition to the commercial broadcaster’s four-season deal with Uefa, from 2018-19 to 2021-22, for rights to 28 German national team matches (20 European qualifiers and eight friendlies).