DFL publishes details of media rights invitation to tender for Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 for the 2025-26 to 2028-29 seasons

Photo: DFL/Getty Images/Lukas Schulze
  • Technological innovations, new content and even closer cooperation between partners, league and clubs take the media offering to a new level
  • DFL relies on a tried and trusted match schedule structure – invitation to tender no longer contains no-single-buyer rule

30 January 2024 – With new content and technological advancements, the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga has created an offering for the upcoming media rights cycle that is geared more than ever before to football fans of all generations. DFL CEO Steffen Merkel explained the details of the content, rights packages and auction for the invitation to tender for the media rights of German-speaking countries for the 2025-26 to 2028-29 seasons at a media roundtable in Hamburg today (Tuesday). With the rights model that is being utilised, the DFL is relying on a tried and trusted match schedule structure, while at the same time taking account of changes in media usage behaviour through innovations in the rights packages.

The invitation to tender includes options for all Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches, as well as the relegation play-offs and the Supercup, which takes place between the Bundesliga champions and the DFB-Pokal winners. The rights will be awarded for Germany as well as Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, East Belgium and South Tyrol.

One thing that millions of fans in front of their screens can look forward to is an even greater number of perspectives. A total of 28 cameras will be used regularly at top matches in the future, and the chosen media partners can also implement further innovations. Furthermore, the partners will have an innovation budget at their disposal. This will enable even more transmissions using high-resolution UHD HDR technology, for example. It is also planned that the DFL will regularly organise special productions together with its media partners – including broadcasts specifically for children and young people. Additional live productions in 9:16 format optimised for smartphones are also envisaged, as is an expansion of the range of match data, that the media partners can use to enrich live broadcasts and provide fans with additional content.

Cooperation between partners, leagues and clubs will be raised to an even higher level. Back in December 2023, the DFL Members Assembly decided unanimously that clubs will be able to provide even more extensive support to media partners in the rights period from 2025 onwards. The coverage of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 by media partners will be enhanced both during the week and on matchdays. This will be made possible by, among other things, more interview opportunities, the provision of club content and possible new serial formats that will be supported or jointly implemented. In addition, there may be new cooperation opportunities for partners, leagues and clubs to post social media clips during a match, in order to promote the live broadcast.

Key data for the upcoming invitation to tender:

  • Bundesliga matches on Fridays and Saturdays with the same media partner in the future

Four pay packages continue to take centre stage in the Bundesliga live segment. The purchaser in question will be authorised to broadcast the content by satellite, cable/IPTV, web TV and mobile TV. What is new is that one of the tendered packages includes the rights to broadcast all individual Bundesliga matches on Friday and Saturday, which will therefore be shown by the same media partner. Previously, the matches on Friday and Sunday were bundled into one package. The matches on Sunday can now be acquired in an individual package. The Bundesliga pay packages therefore include: the conference of the matches played in parallel on Saturday afternoons (package A), all individual matches on Fridays and Saturday afternoons (package B), the top match on Saturday evening (package C) and the individual matches on Sunday (package D).

  • Tried and trusted match schedule structure

The DFL and clubs will also rely on the established kick-off times from 2025-26 onwards. The only adjustment is that, as part of the next Bundesliga media rights cycle, 15 matches per season involving clubs competing for the European Cup will be played on Sundays at 7:30 p.m (previously: 10). One of the reasons for this is to reduce the burden on German participants following the expansion of the international club competitions from the summer of 2024 onwards.

  • Ban on single-buyer no longer applies

For the first time since the invitation to tender in 2012, there is no longer a ban on single buyers. Based on its preliminary assessment, the German Federal Cartel Office has decided not to integrate a mandatory no-single-buyer rule into the concept of the media rights invitation to tender. This means that, in principle, it will be possible for one partner to purchase all four Bundesliga pay-TV live packages. Whether this actually happens will also depend on the offers submitted by interested bidders. These will be assessed in accordance with the DFL’s bidding rules, which have been examined by the Federal Cartel Office.

  • Established rights structure in Bundesliga 2

In the Bundesliga 2, there are two live packages that are also part of the invitation to tender on a technology-neutral basis. As before, one (package F) includes all fixtures in Bundesliga 2 on Friday evenings (6:30 p.m.), Saturday afternoons (1:00 p.m.) and Sundays (1:30 p.m.), the other includes the Saturday evening match at 8:30 p.m. (package G) and can also be purchased for the pay-TV and/or free-to-air sector.

  • More flexibility in free-to-air TV

In addition to further strengthening the pay-TV segment, at least nine live matches will be broadcast on free-to-air TV: the Bundesliga season opener, the last Bundesliga Friday match before the winter break, the first Bundesliga Friday match after the winter break, the season opener in Bundesliga 2, the Supercup, and all four play-offs (package E). In addition, the successful bidders of the pay-TV live rights will have more opportunities to broadcast a certain number of matches on a free-to-air basis – either on their own channels/platforms, or in cooperation with other free-to-air broadcasters/streaming services.

  • New highlight rights packages

In addition to the pay-TV rights (highlight clips after the final whistle of all matches), there are also established highlights rights packages for free-to-air TV as before. There will also be new highlights rights packages that can be used as early as Monday following the previous matchday, including a new package focused on digital platforms that includes the broadcasting of short 90-second clips. The rights package for the first free-to-air TV coverage on Saturday evening will be part of the invitation to tender in two variants: firstly, for a broadcasting window from 6:00-8:15 p.m. and secondly for a broadcasting window from 7:15-8:15 p.m. The content of the broadcasting concepts and the economic framework of the bids will decide which scenario is implemented.

In total, the invitation to tender offers a total of seven live and eight highlights packages for the utilisation of audiovisual rights for 617 matches per season. There are three packages in the audio area – one each for use on the web/mobile and on FM, as well as one for what are known as “audio-in-match clips”. The “Digital out of Home” package entitles the holder to show audiovisual content via digital advertising and information systems.

The tendering process will be open, transparent and free from discrimination. The Federal Cartel Office has confirmed in a preliminary assessment that the marketing model is compatible with the regulations of competition law and is now conducting the final review. Once this process has been concluded with binding effect, the DFL expects to be able to send all approved companies the tender documents starting in the middle of February. The auction is expected to start in mid-April, and the announcement of the decision to award the respective packages will be made in due course.

A detailed summary of the key points of the 2024 invitation to tender can be found in the following presentation: