Bundesliga CEO questions ‘no single buyer’ rule

Bundesliga CEO questions ‘no single buyer’ rule
Christian Seifert, the chief executive of German soccer’s Bundesliga, has questioned whether the league’s ‘no single buyer’ rule should still be in place when it goes to market with its next domestic rights tender.

The legislation was introduced by the Bundeskartellamt, the German competition watchdog, ahead of the 2017/18 to 2020/21 cycle, preventing a single broadcaster from purchasing domestic rights to show all games from German soccer’s top two leagues.

The legislation has attracted widespread criticism for forcing Bundesliga fans to sign up to two pay-TV subscriptions, with the rights currently split between Sky Deutschland and Eurosport, which airs a smaller bundle of games.

The Bundesliga is set to go to market for the period from 2021/22 to 2024/25 at the end of this year before awarding the rights next April, and Seifert has hinted that the league could push for a revision on the single buyer rule.

"I'm asking a big question mark as to whether we need a no-single-buyer rule again,” said Seifert, speaking to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “Due to the technical possibilities in connection with the content strategies of new or existing market participants, there is also enough competition.”

Seifert’s comments come shortly after over-the-top (OTT) subscription service DAZN signalled its intention to bid for the Bundesliga’s domestic rights at the next auction. The streaming platform already holds highlights rights to German soccer’s top tier, but is apparently looking to add live games to its domestic content portfolio.

Seifert said the Bundesliga is seeking an increase on the €4.6 billion (US$5.2 billion) it currently brings in from its domestic rights deals, adding that the league wants to ensure that more games from both the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga are shown on free-to-air television.

“We have always insisted on a good mix between free-to-air TV and pay-TV,” Seifert said. “Football in free TV is important not only for the sponsors, who want to have a wide reach, but above all for the broad anchoring of football in society.”

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