German league predicts lean times for clubs as TV rights dip

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              Schalke's former president Gerd Rehberg sits alone in the tribune during the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and VfL Wolfsburg in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Saturday, June 20, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German soccer clubs may have to cut costs after a slight fall in the value of the domestic broadcast rights for the top two men’s divisions and economic turbulence caused by the coronavirus pandemic, league CEO Christian Seifert said Monday.

The German Football League said that the new four-season contract for 2021-25 was worth about 4.4 billion euros ($4.95 billion) over four years, down slightly from the 4.64 billion ($5.22 billion) in the previous deal.

Comcast Corp.-owned Sky will show all games on Saturdays, making up the bulk of the league’s output, but loses the rights to Sunday games. The DAZN streaming service will show Friday and Sunday games, with nine games on another broadcaster, Sat 1.

Amazon had shown some games in recent weeks since the league restarted last month, but is not among the broadcasters for 2021-25.

“For some that will mean that they have to tighten their belts,” Seifert said, referring to the TV deal and also other factors leading to lower incomes for clubs during the pandemic.

Seifert said the deal was concluded in “a very, very special situation” and that the overall value of the deal was “still a lot of money” which would eventually prove to be competitive with other European leagues. There was an 85% surge in the value of the domestic rights in the auctions for the last four-year cycle in 2016.

Germany was the first major European soccer nation to sell domestic TV rights during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sale came after Germany had led the way as the first of the top European leagues to resume play during the pandemic. All games since the May 16 restart have taken place in empty stadiums.

The Bundesliga has one more round of games Saturday, while other countries like England and Spain have only recently begun their restarted seasons.

Also Monday, Formula One announced a “long term” deal to make Sky the exclusive broadcaster in Germany from 2021. No financial details were immediately available for the agreement, under which Sky will still show highlights packages and four complete races each season.