Innovative programme offerings based on a proven match schedule structure are the focus of the upcoming tender for the German-language media rights of the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga. On Tuesday, March 3 the DFL in Frankfurt explained in detail the content, procedure and decision-making process of the awarding of rights, which is expected to be completed by May of this year. The tender covers all Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches as well as the relegation play-offs and the Supercup for the 2021-22 to 2024-25 seasons. For the first time, usage rights will be tendered not only in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and South Tyrol.
While the match schedule is based on the proven kick-off times in addition to the already announced avoidance of Monday matches in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, the DFL is focusing on new standards in terms of presentation quality and digital distribution. Thus, 176 matches per season will be produced in UHD format; top matches with up to 26 cameras with regular use of aerial camera systems, drone and corner flag cameras, for example.
In line with the changing media usage, the possibility of creating digital offerings is being comprehensively expanded and tailored to different needs. Video and audio “In-match Clips” can be distributed by purchasers of pay live packages while the game is still in progress. For the first time, pay highlight clips can be used directly after the final whistle, and highlight programmes can be made available for the first time afterwards on demand, for example as a media library offering. Up to three “free-clip packages” will allow licencees to offer on demand video coverage from the Monday after each matchday. Another new feature of the tender is a “Digital out of Home” package for the use of video of the matches on outdoor advertising spaces.
Regarding the live coverage of Bundesliga matches, the focus is on four pay packages, all of which are valid for all relevant distribution technologies (“technology neutrality”). This means that the respective acquirer is entitled to broadcast the content via satellite, cable/IPTV, web TV and mobile TV. The pay packages essentially comprise the following: the conference of the parallel matches on Saturday afternoon (package A), all single matches on Saturday afternoon (package B), the top match on Saturday evening (package C) and the single matches on Friday and Sunday (package D). If the same licencee acquires all four of these pay live packages, two of them will be awarded to a second provider for co-exclusive utilization via web and mobile TV. The DFL will announce which two packages this will involve in timely manner before the auction begins. The following also applies: At least one of the four packages must also be utilized via cable and/or satellite.
There are two live packages in Bundesliga 2, which will also be tendered on a technology-neutral basis. One includes the match on Saturday evening at the newly introduced kick-off time at 8:30 p.m. (package G); the other includes all other Bundesliga 2 matches on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon (kick-off time 1:30 p.m.) and Sunday (package F).
In addition to strengthening the pay area, the number of free live matches will be increased. With the Bundesliga season opener, the last match of the first half of the season and the kick-off of the second half of the season as well as the Supercup and all relegation play-off matches, six matches will be shown live and in full length on free-to-air television in future. With regard to Bundesliga 2, from the coming rights period onwards, the season opener will also be part of the “free live” package in addition to the relegation play-off matches between Bundesliga 2 and 3. Liga.
“Our rights portfolio enables the purchasers to distribute the corresponding content in a modern and user-oriented manner. In doing so, the DFL counts on digital innovations and the highest presentation quality of all games. We have been able to make the live rights even more attractive as well as expand the comprehensive coverage on free TV – all while maintaining the regular schedule with a clear focus on the weekend,” says DFL CEO Christian Seifert.
In total, the tender includes seven live and seven highlight packages for the use of audiovisual rights to 617 matches per season. In the audio sector, there are two packages – one each for utilization via radio and via web/mobile. The “Digital out of Home” offer entitles the holder to show audiovisual content via digital advertising and information systems.
The match schedule structure strengthens the importance of Saturdays and Sundays. The ten recovery matches for the UEFA Europa League starters, half of which were previously played on Monday evening and the other half on Sunday from 1:30 p.m. in the Bundesliga, will in future all be played on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The previous Bundesliga kick-off time on Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. will be moved up to 5:30 p.m. The top match of Bundesliga 2 will be moved from Monday evening to Saturday, 8:30 p.m. In both leagues, Matchday 33 will in future be played as a regular matchday with usual kick-off times.
The tendering process will be open, transparent and free from discrimination. Currently, the German Federal Cartel Office is still performing the final review of the details of the tender model. Once this review has been concluded, the DFL will send the tender documents to all admitted companies, expected to be from mid-March onwards. These documents will also contain the final structure of the rights packages and the other contractual provisions. The award decisions are expected to be made in May.