Sky Deutschland chief hints at Bundesliga rights partnership with Deutsche Telekom

Sky Deutschland chief executive Brian Sullivan said the German pay-television broadcaster was willing to discuss partnerships with telecommunications companies around the domestic rights for Bundesliga 1 and 2, the top two divisions of club football in Germany, in the new cycle from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

“Anyone who is interested in the rights does have options,” Sullivan said. “They may feel like putting themselves forward for the rights and bearing the risk, or they may [want to] work with us.”

German newspapers, including the Financial Times Deutschland and Handelsblatt, interpreted Sullivan’s words as an effort to avoid a costly bidding war for the Bundesliga rights between his company and IPTV operator Deutsche Telekom. Deutsche Telekom is expected to be Sky’s key rival in the bidding for the rights. The Deutsche Fussball League, the German football league, has launched the sales process, and is aiming to conclude it by May.

Sullivan said other pay-television operators, which did not have as broad a range of content as Sky, could benefit from linking up with Sky and offering its non-football programming on their platforms to attract a wider audience.

“Together with Sky they can market all of our content, and we’re not only talking about the [Bundesliga],” Sullivan said. “They can provide for their customers and share the revenue with us. That’s a damn good business model for them.”

Deutsche Telekom’s only exclusive sports content is its Bundesliga rights, which it offers via a dedicated channel, Liga Total!. The channel has attracted 150,000 subscribers since launch in 2009-10.