German Federal Cartel Office lifts ban on single buyer for Bundesliga broadcast rights

In a significant development for the future of Bundesliga broadcasting, the German Federal Cartel Office has abolished the long-standing ban that prevented a single broadcaster from acquiring domestic broadcast rights to the Bundesliga exclusively. Here’s what you need to know:

Single Buyer Allowed: Starting from the 2025/26 to the 2028/29 seasons, one broadcaster will have the opportunity to purchase all four live pay-TV packages for Bundesliga matches, a shift from the previous rule that required rights to be split among multiple broadcasters.

Invitation to Tender (ITT): The ITT for rights during this period explicitly states that a single broadcaster can now acquire all four Bundesliga live pay-TV packages, marking a significant change in the approach to broadcasting the league’s matches.

Expanded Coverage: The ITT will offer a total of seven live and eight TV highlights packages, covering not only the Bundesliga but also the second-tier Bundesliga 2 division and the German Supercup. These rights will extend to various regions, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, East Belgium, and South Tyrol.

Free-to-Air (FTA) Component: The successful bidders of the pay-TV packages will have the flexibility to broadcast a certain number of games free-to-air, either on their own platforms or through sub-licensing arrangements, ensuring broader accessibility for viewers.

Historical Context: The ban on a single buyer had been in place since the 2016 Bundesliga domestic tender, aimed at diversifying the pool of interested broadcasters. However, with the evolving landscape of live football coverage and the rise of internet-based broadcasting services, the German Federal Cartel Office has decided to waive this rule.

Coverage Offered: The packages available will encompass a total of 617 games each season, including four live rights packages for pay-TV, two technology-neutral packages for Bundesliga 2, and a free-to-air offering with at least nine live games, featuring the Supercup.

Innovative Productions: The DFL (Deutsche Fußball Liga) is also committing to innovative productions, including live broadcasts in a 9:16 format for smartphone users and specialized content targeting young people and children.

Next Steps: The tender documents for these rights will be distributed to broadcasters next month, with the auction scheduled to commence in mid-April, marking a new era in Bundesliga broadcasting.

Bundeskartellamt’s View: Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, emphasized the changing dynamics in the live football coverage market and the importance of competition and innovation. The decision reflects the evolution of broadcasting services provided by companies such as DAZN, RTL, and Amazon.

Maintaining Highlights Coverage:The Bundeskartellamt also ensured that prompt free-to-air coverage of highlights will continue to be available, ensuring that football fans who cannot or do not wish to pay for live broadcasts can still follow the action.

Competition and Consumer Benefits: The regulatory body acknowledges that joint selling of media rights can provide advantages for consumers, including high-quality league-related products. It will monitor the s ituation and reassess as necessary, ensuring that competition and consumer interests are upheld.

These changes in the broadcasting landscape signals a new era for Bundesliga fans, offering the potential for increased accessibility and innovative coverage options for this highly popular football league.

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