O2 TV, the pay-television broadcaster in the Czech Republic, has extended its domestic rights deal for Czech soccer’s top-tier First League for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons.

However, there will not be continued coverage on public-service broadcaster Ceska Televize, which has shown First League action, either through a direct arrangement or through a sub-licensing deal, for the last 15 years, but says it lacks the financial means to bid for rights in the next cycle.

O2’s present broadcast deal to show First League matches runs until the end of the 2021-22 season, and was struck in advance of the 2018-19 campaign. At present, Ceská Televize shows one match per week, on Friday evenings.

The terms of the current deal between the First League and its title sponsor Fortuna, a European betting operator, state that one game per week must be available free-to-air, to increase the brand exposure. However, the sponsorship agreement is set to expire after the 2021-22 campaign, with a renewal yet to be agreed.

The extension by O2 came through a clause in its contract with the Pragosport agency, which distributes broadcast rights to the First League, and the withdrawal of Ceska Televize means that the network will be able to show all matches exclusively on its O2 TV Sport and O2 TV Fotbal channels. 

The O2 TV Sport channel is available for CZK299 ($14) per month, while the O2 TV Fotbal channel is initially priced at CZK449 per month.

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Anna Lenerová, head of O2 TV content, said: “Now we have managed to extend the rights for the Czech Football League in advance of the 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 seasons, our customers will not lose any matches.”

The public broadcaster said in a statement: "Ceska Televize was, of course, interested in buying broadcasting rights for the First League. When deciding how high a price offer it can make, it must take into account the current situation… 

“Revenues from television fees have not increased since 2008, unlike the price of all sports rights.”

Ceska Televize retains rights to matches of the Czech national teams, both men’s and women’s, and to domestic cup competitions.

The First League is going back down to 16 teams in the 2021-22 season, having had 18 in the last campaign only.