Eleven Sports lands Bundesliga rights in Poland with non-exclusive package still on offer
By Martin Ross
Eleven Sports Network, the pay-TV broadcaster that operates in various markets, today made arguably its biggest rights addition to date, agreeing a four-year deal to show German soccer’s Bundesliga in Poland from next season onwards.
Coverage of the league, which is hugely popular in Poland given the involvement of national team stars Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Łukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund) and Jakub Błaszczykowski (VfL Wolfsburg), will be shown on the Eleven Sports channels, with exclusive rights secured to all but one game per week.
The announcement of a new rights-holder in Poland for the Bundesliga rounds off the league’s European rights sales process, and follows the recent agreement in Israel with Charlton, the pay-TV broadcaster, a contract understood to be worth €1.25 million ($1.33 million) per season.
Eleven Sports’ live Bundesliga coverage will be complemented by highlights, news and analysis, and the German top tier joins competitions including LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1, the FA Cup and Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A in the broadcaster’s soccer rights portfolio in Poland.
Eurosport, the pan-European sports broadcaster, is the incumbent Bundesliga broadcaster in Poland as part of an agreement covering multiple territories in Europe.
Both Eurosport and TVP, the Polish public-service broadcaster, are thought to have been vying with Eleven Sports for the Bundesliga rights in Poland from 2017-18, and the competition - coupled with the availability of an additional package of non-exclusive rights – looks set to drive a healthy increase in the price.
The non-exclusive rights package that can still be sold by DFL Sports Enterprises, the Bundesliga’s worldwide sales and distribution arm, covers one Bundesliga fixture per match round, namely the game at 6.30pm (CET) on Saturday.
The match offered in the package in the midweek rounds and during the last two rounds will be the preferred choice of the league, and there will also be Super Cup and relegation games.
Highlights are also included in the non-exclusive package for 2017-18 to 2020-21, with no time embargo other than for fixtures aired by Eleven Sports.
The package is open to free-to-air and pay-TV broadcasters.
Eleven Sports will be able to sub-license rights, but only with the agreement of the league and as not long as it does not compete with the non-exclusive rights package sold.
The availability of the non-exclusive package means that Eurosport could still retain some Bundesliga coverage in Poland. The German top flight has proved popular for the Discovery-owned broadcaster, with some 806,000 Poles watching November’s clash between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich on Eurosport 2, making it the most-watched programme ever on the channel in that market.
Following the launch of the European rights tender just over a year ago by DFL SE, it was Lagardère Sports that initially looked likely to win the rights in Poland after submitting a strong proposal. However, a deal with the agency did not go through and the rights went back on the market.
Eleven Sports launched in Poland in the summer of 2015 with much of its content accruing from a package of rights acquired from the MP & Silva agency.
The broadcaster is also present in Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore and Taiwan, and its headline acquisitions thus far include rights to the Premier League (in Singapore and Taiwan), LaLiga (in Belgium and Poland), the NBA (in Belgium, Singapore and Taiwan), the NFL (in Belgium and Poland) and Formula 1 (in Poland).
Danny Menken, group managing director at Eleven Sports, said today that the Bundesliga rights underline the broadcaster’s commitment “to our disruptive strategy that places fans at the very heart of the action with comprehensive localised coverage and incredible access to the biggest games and the best players.”
Jörg Daubitzer, managing director at DFL Sports Enterprises, added that the Bundesliga has “seen the excellent work that Eleven Sports has done with its football coverage and we are very confident that the network will do a great job in producing first-class, localised content for the fans across Poland.”
Israeli rights fees swell Charlton has retained the Bundesliga rights in Israel until 2020 under a new agreement that was recently signed off by the pay-TV broadcaster and DFL Sports Enterprises.
Charlton was paying just under €500,000 per season for the rights to the German top flight, and it is understood that the latest three-year deal is worth €1.25 million per season, just under three times the value of the previous contract, and above the Bundesliga’s expectations.
According to sources in the region, competition is thought to have come from ONE, a basic pay-TV sports channel and portal, and Partner Communications, the telecoms group that came close to landing Israeli Premier League rights at the end of 2015 in a bid to enter the sports market.
However, DFL SE has opted to sign a three-year agreement that allows it to come back to a market that will no doubt offer heightened competition in 2020 given the appetite of digital and telecoms players for sports rights.
There was also thought to be some initial interest from Channel 20, the commercial free-to-air station, although an offer did not transpire.