RTL Secures German National Soccer Rights

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Germany's national team is a favorite to win next year's World Cup in Brazil.

The free-TV giant will broadcast 20 qualification matches featuring the national team starting in 2014.

COLOGNE, Germany – German commercial TV giant RTL scored a major ratings coup Wednesday, signing a rights deal for 20 soccer matches featuring the German national team. It is the first time RTL will air games involving the national side in more than 20 years.

The deal, which runs from September 2014 through October 2017, will see RTL air all qualification matches for the 2016 European Cup and 2018 World Cup involving the German national side, now ranked No. 2 in the world.

In this soccer-mad country, Germany's national team is a guaranteed ratings winner. Last year's European Cup semifinal between Germany and Italy drew 27.98 million viewers on public broadcaster ARD, a 76.8 percent market share.

ARD and its sister public network ZDF have traditionally locked up all national team games for themselves but they were outmaneuvered by RTL this time. The public channels, however, still retain the more valuable rights to the actual World and European cup championships.