Sky-DAZN Champions League deal probed by German regulator
By Jonathan Rest
Sky Deutschland, the pay-TV broadcaster, and DAZN, the over-the-top subscription streaming service, have both vowed to cooperate fully with Germany's Federal Cartel Office, which is probing the Uefa Champions League rights deal between the two.
The antitrust regulator said today it was investigating whether DAZN's acquisition of sub-licensed Champions League rights from Sky for Germany and Austria for the 2018-19 to 2020-21 cycle was in accordance with competition law.
As it stands, no Champions League games this season are available in Germany on free-to-air TV.
In a statement to Sportcal, DAZN said: "We can confirm that, as part of administrative proceedings, the FCO is looking into the tender and award of the Champions League rights in Germany. We are of course cooperating fully and at this stage are not going to comment any further on the ongoing investigation."
Sky also said it had been informed by the cartel office about the investigation and would cooperate fully, but declined to comment further.
Andreas Mundt, president of the FCO, said: “We are examining when and in what form the cooperation between the two companies was established and whether the cooperation promotes competition in the interest of consumers or restricts it.”
The FCO also indicated that Sky, as Germany’s leading pay-TV operator, is subject to particular restrictions in cooperating with competitors, and therefore the deal with DAZN may serve to strengthen its market position.
The cartel office added: “Moreover, several matches of German and other clubs are now exclusively available online (OTT), and there is no more free TV broadcasting of Champions League live matches in Germany. Against that background, it has to be examined whether the cooperation restricts competition by object or by effect.”
German broadcasters were invited by the Team Marketing agency to deliver first-round offers at the start of April last year, and the switch to an exclusively pay-TV agreement was expected after DAZN and Sky, the incumbent, went after the rights aggressively.
In June, DAZN announced the sub-licensed deal with Sky.
It is understood Uefa netted around €185 million ($214 million) per season from the pay-only deal, compared with about €120 million per season on the previous deal evenly split between Sky and public-service broadcaster ZDF.ZDF showed one live game per match week in the previous cycle.
Under listed events legislation, the final of the Champions League is the only match that cannot be shown exclusively on pay-television, and even then it is only protected if a German team is taking part, which has not been the case since the 2013 all-German final in London between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
The cartel office concluded its statement today by saying that it will “request information from Sky, DAZN and other market players in order to investigate, inter alia, the precise sequence of events regarding the tender procedure for the broadcasting rights.”