Abema, the Japanese over-the-top (OTT) sports streaming service, has extended its rights to German soccer’s top-tier Bundesliga to include the 2023-24 season.

As part of the deal, Abema will broadcast 104 Bundesliga games live this season.

The extension follows the deal earlier this year to broadcast the remainder of the 2022-23 season, covering 45 matches.

While certain matches will only be shown on the paid Abema Premium service, all Freiburg matches will be broadcast for free, since Freiburg have Ritsu Doan, Japan’s number 10.

The Bundesliga has a large Japanese playing contingent, including the likes of Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Wataru Endo, Hiroki Ito, Genki Haraguchi (Stuttgart), Daichi Kamada and Makoto Hasebe (Frankfurt), Ko Itakura (Monchengladbach), Maya Yoshida (Schalke), and Takuma Asano (Bochum).

Abema also holds rights to the English Premier League this season through a sub-licensing deal with streaming platform SPOTV Now, the primary rightsholder in Japan.

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The main Bundesliga rightsholder in Japan is pay-television broadcaster SkyPerfecTV under a five-year deal covering the 2020-21 to 2024-25 cycle.

Meanwhile, the Bundesliga has promoted Marcus Beisiegel to be the new director of audiovisual rights and media product, while Vito Esposito will head the newly established institutional and political relations and regulation directorate.

This comes as a result of the new management, Marc Lenz and Steffen Merkel, making initial organizational adjustments and personnel changes within the Bundesliga in order to strengthen what they determine to be “core issues.”

Beisiegel’s new role will be effective from September 1, 2023, making him responsible for the tendering of German-language media rights as well as national and international product management, taking over from Stephen Merkkel, who is now managing director.

Beisiegel joined in 2012 and most recently worked as head of national audiovisual rights, where he has been involved in the bidding process for national media rights.

Stephen Merkel said: “Marcus Beisiegel has been an integral part of the audiovisual rights directorate for more than eleven years and has made a significant contribution to the further development of the media product during this time.

“His profound expertise coupled with his many years of experience in the tendering process for national media rights are very good prerequisites for successful work in the new function."

Vito Esposito’s new role will also be effective September 1, 2023. His newly established directorate will cover institutional, political, sports policy, and regulatory issues. Esposito joined in 2014 and was most recently head of media, marketing, and antitrust law.

Managing director Marc Lenz said: “In Vito Esposito we were able to gain a valued expert for this important position. The establishment of the management is of central importance in order to represent the DFL strongly in far-reaching regulatory and (sports) political issues.

“As a lawyer with extensive media law experience, Vito Esposito is also predestined to intensify the area of ​​rights protection, a key focus for increasing the value of DFL media rights."