Vodafone pulls out of German Bundesliga rights race

Friedrich Joussen, Vodafone Germany’s chief executive, said that the telecommunications company would not bid for domestic rights for the Bundesliga, the German football league.

“After careful consideration we decided last week not to act as a strategic bidder,” Joussen told the WirtschaftsWoche magazine.

“The football rights are far too expensive for us to carry on a full-cost basis,” he added. However, Vodafone is said to be considering collaborations with the eventual rights-holders.

Earlier this month, the league launched a rights tender for four seasons, from 2013-14 to 2016-17.

Vodafone had previously expressed an interest in buying at least one package of the rights as part of the expansion of its IPTV service, Vodafone TV, which had 100,000 subscribers at the end of 2011. Joussen said that a rights fee in excess of €100 million ($132 million) would leave Vodafone “deeply in the red” even if its number of subscribers increased to three million.

The league has whittled down the number of bidders for the Bundesliga rights to a shortlist of 15 companies. It hopes to conclude the rights sales process by May.