Germany Drops Antitrust Case Against Sky, Streamer Dazn

TF-Images_Getty Images
Borussia Dortmund, a German team in the 2020 UEFA Champions League

Authorities say the novel coronavirus crisis was a factor in dropping an investigation into alleged collusion, saying "a lot has changed" in the sports rights market amid the pandemic.

German authorities have dropped antitrust proceedings against pay TV broadcaster Sky and online sports streaming service Dazn over alleged collusion in the bidding for rights to the Champions League soccer tournament.

The investigation was launched in 2018, a year after Sky successfully bid for the German broadcast rights for three seasons of the Champions League. Sky later split the rights with Dazn, a subscription video-on-demand service. One consequence was to take Champions League matches off free TV in Germany.

In a statement on Wednesday, Germany federal antitrust body the Bundeskartellamt said the novel coronavirus pandemic was a factor in its decision.

Bundeskartellamt president Andreas Mundt said the impact of the coronavirus crisis made it difficult to predict how the sports rights market would develop in the near-term, making it "particularly difficult to assess the effects of an intervention under competition law."

The Bundeskartellamt was examining whether Sky and Dazn had agreed to split the rights before the bidding process.

In the most recent Champions League bidding process, in December 2019, Amazon Prime secured some of the most attractive German broadcast rights, starting from the 2021 season.

But the entire tournament has been put on hold because of the coronavirus. On March 13, European soccer body UEFA suspended the current Champions League season and has yet to set a date for it to resume.