A sigh of relief at Sky Deutschland, but stunned faces at Deutsche Telekom as Germany's national football association DFL has allocated all the domestic pay-TV rights to Bundesliga live coverage from the 2013/14 season to Sky.
Deutsche Telekom, which currently owns the IPTV and mobile TV rights, has been left empty-handed and the telco now seeks a collaboration with Sky to continue offering Bundesliga games to its customers.
DFL's decision means that Sky will be able to continue showing all matches from Bundesliga's first and second division live to its subscribers until the 2016/17 season. The pay-TV broadcaster secured the broadcast rights for cable, satellite, DTT, IPTV, web-TV and mobile TV, paying €486 million per season on average.
The rights for the first coverage of Saturday afternoon games on free-to-air television were acquired by public broadcaster ARD which will therefore be able to continue offering its traditional flagship sports programme Sportschau each Saturday at 18.30 CET. In addition to conventional distribution, ARD can also broadcast Sportschau on the Internet and mobile devices.
The secondary rights for the Saturday games and the first rights to Saturday's 18.30 CET match will be maintained by public broadcaster ZDF which will continue to report on the games on its Saturday night programme Aktuelles Sportstudio. Commercial channel Sport1 will continue to show highlights of the second-division league on Friday and Sunday and transmit the second-division's Monday games live and in full.
A new rights holder will be Axel Springer. Germany's largest publishing house will show highlights of the Bundesliga matches via web TV and mobile TV on the digital portals of its tabloid newspaper BILD. The videos will be accessible one hour after the end of each match as a premium service, while from midnight the following day they can be offered free of charge.
Through the allocation of the domestic media rights, DFL will collect total revenues of €2.5 billion in the four seasons between 2013/14 and 2016/17 - a new record figure in German football history. This corresponds to around €628 million per year - an increase of 52% compared with the current revenues of €412 million per year.
Having opted for Sky, DFL secures the existence of the pay-TV broadcaster which would otherwise have faced an uncertain future. Telekom, which wanted to snap away the cable and satellite rights from Sky, now has to agree on a collaboration with its Munich-based competitor if it wants to continue offering its customers Bundesliga live coverage.
A possible scenario could be Sky sub-licensing the IPTV rights to Telekom or Telecom commencing carriage of Sky's Bundesliga package on its IPTV platform Entertain. Sky CEO Brian Sullivan already hinted in March 2012 that the broadcaster would be open towards such partnerships: "We are always talking to interesting partners and we are open for good collaborations."
The mobile TV rights, however, could be used by Sky itself. Mobile service Sky Go which launched around a year ago and now has almost 700,000 users would then be able to transmit Bundesliga live games through 3G mobile networks, for example for Apple's iPhone.
Telekom now wants to enter negotiations with Sky to secure a portion of the rights. "We are disappointed, of course, as we expected more," a Telekom spokesman told Rapid TV News. "With our bid, we went to the limit of what's economically sensible. We wanted the Bundesliga rights, but not at any price. After all, we have to consider economic viability to which we are obliged in the interest of our customers and shareholders. For Telekom, it would not have economically made sense to submit a higher bid,” he added.
"We respect DFL's decision and congratulate Sky," said the Telekom spokesman. "Life goes on and Entertain will continue to exist." Entertain will continue to offer its Bundesliga channel LIGA Total! in the forthcoming season without changes, but enriched with plenty of interactive elements. Regarding the seasons from 2013/14, the spokesman said that Telekom would approach Sky in order to be able to continue providing Bundesliga coverage to Entertain's customers. "We want to talk to Sky about all distribution platforms," the spokesman revealed, adding that this would include mobile TV and DTH satellite in addition to IPTV.