German Soccer League Signs Record $5.3B Rights Deal

Germany's Bundesliga

Eurosport, Amazon, online streaming company Perform and public broadcaster ZDF join Sky and ARD in splitting up rights for the Bundesliga, the country's top soccer league.

Germany's top flight soccer division, the Bundesliga, has nearly doubled its revenue with a new series of rights deals worth more than €4.67 billion ($5.3 billion) over the next four seasons.

The German Soccer League, the DFL, on Thursday announced a series of rights deals that will see Bundesliga matches carried over a series of platforms, including pay TV giant Sky, in which 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF and, for the first time, Discovery Networks' Eurosport channel and new online streaming platform Perform.

Amazon picked up internet audio rights for the Bundesliga for the four-year period, which runs from the 2017-2018 season through 2020-2021.

Sky snatched up all live media rights in the last Bundesliga auction, leading the DFL to split up rights packages this time around, ensuring no one outlet has a monopoly. A side benefit, judging by the prices paid, was to boost bidding by all parties. The rights packages announced Thursday average out to a total of $1.3 billion a season, compared to $710.8 million a season under the previous deal period, a 85 percent revenue hike. For the first time, the Bundesliga rights will bring in more than $1.13 billion a season, the target the DFL had set for this rights auction.

The DFL said it still has a number of rights deals left to close, including rights for China. All told, the association is forecasting an average annual revenue of more than $1.7 billion per season over the four-year period.

While a record for the German league, the $5.3 billion figure is still far behind the record $7.5 billion secured by the English Premier League in its recent three-year deal covering the 2016-2019 seasons. Sky and BT were the main Premier League buyers.

While Sky no longer has a monopoly on pay-TV rights to the Bundesliga, the group will still carry most live matches for the four-year period. Eurosport, the pan-European sports network controlled by Discovery Networks, picked up a package of Bundesliga rights that includes live Friday matches as well as relegation battles and the so-called Supercup game, the season-opening match between the first- and second-place finishers of last season.

Perform, a U.K.-based sports media company which operates a number of online services in Germany, nabbed a rights bundle of online and mobile highlights that can be streamed as early as 30 minutes following a live game. The company is hungry for content ahead of its planned launch of an over-the-top digital service in select European countries later this year. Perform already has certain online rights in Germany for the English Premiere League and Spain's La Liga, as well as the NBA and NFL.

Germany's public broadcasters held their own in this round of Bundesliga bidding. They will continue to carry all Bundesliga highlights as well as a handful of live matches.

One potential bidder shut out of Thursday's deals was telco giant Deutsche Telekom, which had been expected to nab online rights. The DFL did not close deals of a couple of packages involving free-TV rights, saying the initial offers were too low. The league said they may re-open bidding for those rights.