Bundesliga to Turn Less ″Fan Friendly?″ | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 12.05.2005
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Bundesliga to Turn Less "Fan Friendly?"

In order to please pay TV and increase revenues, German soccer league DFL is considering changing kick-off times.


"Friendly fans" may lose out

The DFL is mulling whether to stagger kick-off times for Bundesliga games held on weekends to get more lucrative offers for TV viewing rights, the league's new business manager told German magazine Sport Bild this week.

"We're in a situation, and I say it quite clearly, in which nothing is ruled out, whether it is salami (split up) match schedules, changes to times or a change in the relationship between pay TV and free TV," Christian Seifert, the DFL's new business manager told Sport Bild.

And while Seifert declined to provide specifics, he said it was a necessary move to keep the league financially competitive.

"It's still a little bit early to talk about specific numbers," he said. "But (Bayern Munich Chairman Karl-Heinz) Rummenigge's demand is absolutely right. We have an outstanding product in the Bundesliga, and we need an outstanding return."

More money, please

Seifert was referring to a recent call by Rummenigge for the soccer league to seek 200 million ($256 million) more euros through negotiations for the TV rights later this year. That would put the total cost at 500 million euros.

Fußball Bundesliga 2004 FC Bayern München Trainer Ottmar Hitzfeld mit einem Blumenstrauß zum Abschied

Rummenigge (right) wants 200 million euros more

Currently, seven of the Bundesliga games kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and two on 5:30 p.m. Sundays. All of them are broadcast in their entirety on pay channel Premiere, with match highlights available to public channels ARD, ZDF and DSF. The current contracts expire at the end of the 2005-2006 season.

The current initative would give the pay channels greater exclusivity, drawing higher advertising rates since the matches would be broadcast farther ahead of the free channels.

Most other major European soccer leagues have already tried fiddling with start times with some success -- which has motivated Seifert.

"We don't want to ignore the interest of the public," he said. "We know that the situation in Germany is more 'fan friendly' compared to other European countries that are much more oriented towards pay TV interests... This reservation has to be reviewed if if we see that it doesn't produce the desired results."

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