Bundesliga heads to ESPN+ next season


It was first reported by the New York Post back in August, but it is now official. ESPN has snapped up the rights to the German Bundesliga in a six-year agreement starting in August 2020.

ESPN+ will be the primary outlet and will feature exclusive live and on-demand replay coverage of more than 300 matches per season from the Bundesliga, in both English and Spanish languages.

In addition, the long-term agreement includes live coverage of the season kick-off DFL Supercup, rights to Bundesliga 2 matches and on-demand surround programming such as highlights and magazine shows.

ESPN’s linear television networks will also feature at least four select Bundesliga matches each season and highlights will be available on ESPN programming, on the ESPN App, and ESPN.com. The Bundesliga joins an extensive lineup of soccer on ESPN+ such as Major League Soccer, Euro 2020, and Serie A.

Speaking about this announcement, Bundesliga International CEO, Robert Klein, said:

“It was clear from the start that ESPN and ESPN+ shared our ambitious vision. As innovators in the sports industry, we’re both driven to deliver highly engaging content for fans.”

He continued:

“They will help us build on the strong connections the Bundesliga has with the U.S. having welcomed more American players than any other European league.

“They’re attracted by the authentic, entertaining soccer we describe as ‘Football As It’s Meant To Be’, played in front of the largest spectator numbers in the sport and epitomised by the highest goals per game average of all top European leagues.

“Germany will continue to be an important source of talent for future U.S.national teams and with ESPN we’re incredibly excited to take fans on their journey in the lead up to their home World Cup in 2026.

“ESPN now is the fastest-growing streaming service in the U.S. They were the quickest to one million [users], quickest to two million [users]. And with a new bundle coming in November we will soon be in the 10s of millions during the length of this contract.”

The Bundesliga’s current deal with Fox expires at the end of this season and struggled to get a foothold in terms of viewership as their television windows are similar to that of the English Premier League on the networks of NBCUniversal.

As DFL CEO Chrisitan Seifert told Forbes magazine, they were looking for someone who could meet their editorial demands.

“The next television contract is not just about money,” CEO of the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) Christian Seifert said on Aug. 8. “Fox was a good partner, without a doubt, but we are looking at more of an editorial commitment.

ESPN can do that with their ESPN FC site and TV programme, but what was missing to them was central live rights to help tell the story of the Bundesliga.

“The ESPN FC site has done a fair amount of bonus media coverage [on the Bundesliga already],” said ESPN Senior Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions Scott Guglielmino. “The reality of it is we were missing the central piece, the live rights.

“We want to tell stories,” Guglielmino says. “And you know, we have now a partner that spends quite a bit of resource, trying to unearth those stories and tell stories. And so, we’re going to have a lot of opportunity between all of our resources.”


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