Sony Pictures Networks, the Indian pay-television broadcaster, has secured exclusive rights across the subcontinent to the next two seasons of German soccer’s top-tier Bundesliga.
The deal, struck with Bundesliga International, a subsidiary of the league, runs until the end of the 2022-23 campaign and means viewers in the following countries will be able to catch live action from the top-tier league across linear and on-demand TV: India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan.
SPN replaces the FanCode digital platform, owned by Dream Sports, as the Bundesliga’s Indian rights-holder, with that site having been the sole broadcaster of the top-tier German league last season.
The Bundesliga-FanCode deal, which was initially announced as a multi-year affair, has now ended prematurely, with SPN stepping into the breach.
All matches will be shown for the next two seasons either on the various SPN linear channels or through the network’s on-demand over-the-top platform, SonyLIV.
Before the last campaign, between 2015 and 2020 pay-TV rival Star India held exclusive subcontinental rights to the league, in a five-season deal reportedly worth $800,000 per year.
Bundesliga International chief executive Robert Klein said: “With this deal, we are able to guarantee Bundesliga fans a place to watch their team every single matchday. We are looking forward to working with Sony Pictures Networks throughout India and the subcontinent to deliver all the twists and turns of the next two Bundesliga seasons.”
Rajesh Kaul, chief revenue officer and head of distribution for sports business at SPN, added: “We are excited about announcing our successful acquisition of the Bundesliga, which is a part of our ongoing strategy to be the premier destination for the best of international soccer. The Bundesliga is among the most popular club football leagues in the world and boasts a strong fan following here.”
Over the last decade, the Bundesliga claims it has been home to more players from the subcontinent and the rest of the Asian Football Confederation than any of European soccer’s other top leagues.
The Bundesliga has also brought a number of fan-based activations to India in recent years, in an attempt to grow its brand in the world’s second-most populous country.
In terms of Bundesliga International’s recent activity, the subsidiary has concluded rights deals for the current season with Network4 in Hungary, NENT Group (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland), United Media (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia), Setanta Sports (Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Belarus), BeIN Sports (France and Turkey) and Eleven Sports (Belgium and Portugal).
Global media giant ESPN holds rights in Spanish-speaking South America and the US, while in Germany itself, rights were retained by pay-TV's Sky Deutschland and over-the-top platform DAZN.
SPN, meanwhile, has not been a prominent broadcaster of top-tier soccer in recent years (Japan’s J.League being its one other main property in the sport) with the broadcaster instead focusing on cricket, the summer’s Tokyo Olympics, and North American basketball’s NBA.