The German Soccer League (DFL) has dropped longtime partner, pay-TV company Premiere, as the provider of live Bundesliga games and has ruled in favor of a consortium of cable television operators.
Live German soccer will move from Premiere to a new home from the 2006/07 season
The new distribution of TV rights for German soccer will also see public broadcaster ARD retain its immensely popular highlights show "Sportschau" at its prime time slot of 6:30 p.m.
The consortium, headed by Germany's biggest cable provider Kabel Deutschland and the Unity Media company, will host live games from the 2006/07 season after the DFL met with representatives of the Bundesliga's 32 clubs in Frankfurt on Wednesday.
The new three-year contract is valid from the start of next season and is worth 420 million euros ($495 million). The old agreement with Premiere as the main pay-TV partner was worth 300 million euros. The contract includes the introduction of a live Friday night Bundesliga game.
Cable consortium dwarfs Premiere offer to secure rights
Reports that the German soccer league could expect to reap more than 400 million euros for the rights were proved to be correct as the cable consortium proved too powerful in the bidding stakes for the likes of Premiere and German telecommunication giant Deutsche Telekom. The DFL is set to pocket a staggering 1.26 billion euros from the rights in the three-year period.
Premiere, which had been seen as front-runner to secure the deal with an increased bid of more than 250 million euros, will continue to transmit live Bundesliga matches during the rest of the current season.
Premiere also has the rights to show live all 64 matches of soccer's 2006 World Cup and in August bought the German rights to the UEFA Champions League soccer competition.
"Sportschau" retains prime slot despite pay-TV demands
Earlier this year, the pay-TV company demanded a bigger time gap between its live matches and ARD's "Sportschau," proposing that the free TV summary show be moved to a slot at 10 p.m. The highlights show will now stay where it is in the schedule.
Premiere shares crashed on the news of it failed bid
Things went from bad to worse for Premiere as its shares plunged 39 percent to 14.50 euros on the news and analysts projected a possible 33 percent drop in subscribers over the next few years on the back of its failure to secure the rights to German soccer.
The DFL also awarded the rights to the two Sunday Bundesliga matches to German sports broadcaster DSF during the meeting.