Seifert: Bundesliga to increase live free-to-air matches from 2021-22

Christian Seifert, chief executive of the Deutsche Fußball Liga, has said that there will be more of Germany’s Bundesliga matches shown live on free-to-air television from the 2021-22 season, after it agrees its next cycle of domestic media-rights deals.

Speaking to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Seifert said that “the number of games on free-to-air TV will be greater in the next invitation to tender”.

The DFL is currently drafting the tender documents for domestic rights from 2021-22 to 2024-25 with the idea of going to market early this year. Bild has reported that the league would like to increase the number of live Bundesliga fixtures on free-to-air television by three matches to nine each season.

In the current 2017-18 to 2020-21 cycle there are three Bundesliga matches per season shown free-to-air, all broadcast non-exclusively by public-service broadcaster ZDF. The broadcaster also holds non-exclusive live rights to the German Supercup and non-exclusive live rights to two relegation play-off matches between 2. Bundesliga and 3. Liga.

It is claimed that two relegation play-off matches between the top-tier Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, along with the opening match from the second tier, would be added to the live free-to-air inventory on offer.

The three regular-season Bundesliga matches aired by ZDF at present are all Friday evening clashes, including the season opener. All regular-season 2. Bundesliga matches are shown exclusively behind a paywall.

Pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland broadcasts 266 exclusive live Bundesliga matches per season, while streaming service DAZN broadcasts 40 matches. Sky also holds rights to all 306 2. Bundesliga matches per season.

Including the additional deals with public-service broadcaster ARD (highlights), sports broadcaster Sport1 (highlights), and a direct deal with DAZN (highlights clips), the DFL brings in €1.16bn ($1.28bn) per season from its domestic media-rights deals in the 2017-21 cycle.

Aside from the free-to-air aspect of the tender, Seifert has also previously commented on the Bundesliga strategy following the increased number of pay-television players in the Germany market. He said recently: “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.”

Along with interest from current partners for domestic Bundesliga rights, players such as retail internet giant Amazon, and telco Deutsche Telekom could seek to acquire rights. Both have recently acquired premium football rights in the country: Deutsche Telekom picking up the 2024 Uefa European Championship rights in September, and Amazon acquiring a package of Uefa Champions League rights last month.