Questions and answers on the media rights invitation to tender

Photo: DFL/Getty Images/Sebastian Widmann

4 April 2024 – One of the main tasks of the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH is to allocate media exploitation rights for Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches as well as for the Supercup and relegation play-offs.

Questions and answers regarding the tendering process for German-speaking areas regarding the media rights for seasons 2025-26 to 2028-29 of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

  • What are the Bundesliga media rights, and why is there a media rights invitation to tender?

    Media rights with regard to German professional football refer to the right of a broadcaster or media company to broadcast live images or highlights of Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches and use them commercially. Every four years, the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga puts these rights out to tender centrally for German-speaking countries.

  • Which media rights are included in the invitation to tender?

    The invitation to tender covers all matches for seasons 2025-26 to 2028-29 of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, as well as the relegation play-offs and the Supercup between the German champion and the DFB-Pokal winner. The rights will be awarded for Germany as well as Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, East Belgium and South Tyrol (German-speaking areas in each case).

  • When can the results of the 2024 media rights invitation to tender be expected?

    The auction is expected to start in mid-April, and the final decisions will be made shortly afterwards.

  • Who can take part in the competition?

    All interested companies were able to register with the DFL to take part in the invitation to tender.

  • What is the no-single-buyer rule all about?

    In the last two rights periods, the Federal Cartel Office had stipulated that no broadcaster or media company may acquire all live matches (no-single-buyer rule). This meant that fans had to have several subscriptions if they wanted to be sure to access all matches individually, as well as through the conference. The Federal Cartel Office has now agreed to the DFL’s proposal that this invitation to tender can take place without a no-single-buyer rule. In principle, it is therefore possible that one partner could once again exclusively acquire all live packages for the first time since the 2013-2017 rights cycle. Whether one partner actually acquires exclusive rights to all live matches will also depend on the progress of the invitation to tender and the media companies’ bids. In any case, the DFL expressly welcomes the abolition of the no-single-buyer rule – because the abolition can have a positive impact on the interests of fans and competition.

  • Who decides who gets the award for which package?

    This is decided by the DFL on the basis of fixed criteria, that were defined by the Federal Cartel Office.

  • What revenue has been generated to date from the German-language media rights?

    The clubs can expect an average collective income of EUR 1.1 billion for the seasons 2021-22 to 2024-25. This corresponds to the total value of EUR 4.4 billion, which – minus a fee to the DFL – is distributed to the 36 clubs.

  • What significance do the media rights have for the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs?

    Media revenue makes up a very large part of the clubs’ financing, and for clubs with small stadiums and comparatively low sponsorship income, sometimes half of their entire budget. Without the income from media rights, it would probably not have been possible for all 36 clubs to survive the economic restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • What revenue is the DFL expecting this year?

    All the current deals and negotiations in the European football leagues point to one thing: the major leagues need to be innovative to achieve further growth. And this includes the DFL. That is why we the league hast significantly enhanced the range of services and will be working even more closely with media partners in future. The DFL is entering the tendering process with confidence.

  • How will the media partners refinance the costs they incur through the acquisition of media rights?

    For the media partners, the acquisition of media rights is an investment that can ideally be utilised profitably through subscriptions (on pay TV or for highlights on publishers’ websites) and through the marketing of advertising. The public broadcasters also charge licence fees, currently EUR 18.36 per household, to finance their broadcasting mandate. The share of Bundesliga rights corresponds to a low double-digit cent amount per month and contributor.

  • Will the highlights of each weekend’s Saturday matches still be shown on “Sportschau”?

    There is no guarantee that rights will be retained for any channel, streaming service or format. This is not a statement in favour of or against a broadcaster, but is in the nature of an open, transparent and non-discriminatory invitation to tender, as prescribed by the Federal Cartel Office. In such an invitation to tender, the Federal Cartel Office also sets out clear auction rules as to when the DFL may accept which bid.

  • Does the invitation to tender have an impact on kick-off times or the match schedule?

    The DFL and clubs will also rely on the established kick-off times from 2025-26 onwards. The only adjustment is that, in the next Bundesliga media rights cycle, 15 matches per season of the clubs competing for the European Cup (previously: 10) will be played on Sundays at 7:30 p.m. 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.

  • How are media rights defined?

    The media rights are divided into various packages, for example the Bundesliga conference on Saturday, the top match of Bundesliga 2 on Saturday evening or highlight clips for internet usage. This ensures that there is a mix of pay-TV and free-to-air offerings, which enables the 36 clubs to achieve a good financial result on the one hand while also offering Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 football as widely as possible on the other hand. The packages are bid on individually in an auction.

  • What are the live rights packages that are on offer?

    Four pay packages continue to take centre stage for live coverage of the Bundesliga. 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).
    For Bundesliga 2, there are two live packages that are also part of the invitation to tender. 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.), and the other (package G) includes the Saturday evening match at 8:30 p.m. and can also be purchased for the pay-TV and/or free-to-air sector.

  • What about the highlight rights packages?

    In addition to the pay-TV rights (highlight clips after the final whistle of all matches), there are also established rights packages for free-to-air TV as before. There will also be new highlight rights packages that can be used as early as Monday, 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 to 8:15 p.m. and secondly for a broadcasting window from 7:15 to 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 provides for the award of seven live and eight highlights packages for the utilisation of audiovisual rights to 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.

  • How many matches will be broadcast on free-to-air TV?

    At least nine matches will be broadcast on free-to-air TV from the 2025-26 season: 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 of Bundesliga 2, the Supercup and all four relegation play-offs (package E). In addition, the purchasers of 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.

  • What innovations can we expect to see in production?

    One of the things that fans in front of their screens can look forward to is even more perspectives. A total of 28 cameras will be used regularly at top matches in the future. The media partners can also implement further innovations: each partner will have an innovation budget at their disposal for this. 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. The aim is to create a Bundesliga experience for all generations.

  • What contribution do the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs make to what viewers get to see?

    The 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 the clubs will be able to provide even more extensive support to the media partners in the rights period from 2025 onwards. The coverage of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 by the media partners will be enhanced both during the week and on matchdays. This will be made possible among other things by 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.

  • Is there also an invitation to tender for the non-German-language media rights?

    Invitations to tender for media rights to the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 take place regularly in other territories around the world. Depending on the size and situation of the respective market, however, the revenues here vary greatly and reach a significantly lower volume overall than the German-language rights.

A detailed summary of the key points can be found in the following presentation: