German soccer’s Deutsche Fussball Liga (DFL) body has taken the first steps towards launching its next four-year domestic broadcast rights tender for the men's top-tier Bundesliga.

The DFL yesterday (January 15) released a statement asking interested firms to register for the tender and will send companies that take that step a procedural letter within the coming weeks. The letter will cover the tender’s schedule, including criteria for entry and all deadlines. Following that, the invitation to tender (ITT) itself will be sent to all registered countries.

The process – which the DFL is reportedly hoping to conclude by June – will cover Bundesliga rights in Germany, alongside Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, South Tyrol, and East Belgium, between the 2025-26 and 2028-29 seasons. Tenders will also be sent out for audio rights, as well as “exploitation rights for digital advertising and information systems."

Domestic live TV rights to Bundesliga action during the current cycle – 2021-22 through 2024-25 – are shared between Sky Deutschland, DAZN, ProSiebenSat.1, and Sport1. Public-service broadcaster ARD, meanwhile, holds free-to-air highlights rights.

These deals are worth, in total, around €1.1 billion ($1.2bn) annually.

A decision as to the allocation of these rights “is expected to be made in the second quarter of 2024,” the DFL has said.

In terms of audio rights, ARD currently holds these (both broadcast and digital), while German publishing giant Axel Springer holds digital out-of-home rights.

In a recent interview with the Sport Bild publication, co-chief executive at the Bundesliga Steffen Merkel rejected the possibility of a revenue-sharing deal of the sort that DAZN has in place with Italian men’s soccer’s top-tier Serie A.

He said, on that front: "As soon as you build sales-dependent components into a contract, bids for rights packages are no longer comparable one-to-one. For example, if one broadcaster offers us €100 million and 50% of the subscription revenue above and another offers us €120 but only 20% of the revenue, we have a problem when it comes to comparability – but that is important for one non-discriminatory tendering.”

Merkel added: “Also, with a view to the planning security of clubs with long-term player contracts, we, like other leagues, have an interest in receiving offers with a comparable and predictable sum.”

The DFL is reportedly planning to hold off launching the actual tender itself until it has a ruling back from the Bundeskartellamt, Germany's cartel office, on whether it can remove a clause in the tender that prohibits rights from being sold to one single buyer.

Instead, they are currently legally required to be split between media partners.