Eleven Sports shuffles Bundesliga rights in Poland in deal with nc+
By Martin Ross
Eleven Sports, the pay-TV broadcaster, is to share live coverage of the Bundesliga in Poland with nc+, which operates the Canal Plus subscription channels, but will retain the bulk of the games.
The acquisition of exclusive Bundesliga rights to all but one per game per week in a four-season deal announced in February was arguably Eleven Sports’ biggest rights addition to date in any of its territories, although there will be a change to its offering.
Rights to the Saturday 6.30pm clash were not sold by Bundesliga International, the league’s worldwide sales and distribution arm, at the time of Eleven Sports’ initial deal in February, but the broadcaster announced today that it would now show fixtures at that timeslot exclusively.
Rights to the DFL Supercup and four relegation play-offs have also been secured exclusively by Eleven Sports, but the broadcaster has opted to recoup some its Bundesliga investment by sub-licensing exclusive rights to certain games to nc+.
The Canal Plus channels will show two Bundesliga games exclusively in each round in 30 match weeks across the next four seasons, and three Bundesliga games in each of the other four match weeks.
Eleven Sports will offer all the other matches live (and on an exclusive basis), while the Canal Plus output will be supplemented by highlights of all games.
Danny Menken, Eleven Sports’ group managing director, said today that the broadcaster is now looking to add to its existing three linear channels in Poland (all of which are also available as OTT channels).
He remarked: “This sub-license agreement with nc+ works for everyone – creating more choice for viewers and allowing us to manage our word-class portfolio more effectively. To ensure we continue to meet demand and deliver more live games to our viewers we are also considering launching a new channel this year with more details to follow.”
A source close to the agreement told Sportcal that nc+ will hold the second- and fourth-choice picks in 30 match weeks, with Eleven Sports keeping the other seven picks (first, third, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth).
During the other four allocated match weeks, it is understood that nc+ will be able to pick the matches of audience magnet Bayern Munich, the club of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, along with picks four and five, leaving Eleven Sports with the second- and third-choice picks.
Eleven Sports, which launched in Poland in the summer of 2015, did show this season’s Supercup game and has also aired 6.30pm games on Saturdays.
All three Eleven Sports channels are available on the nc+ pay-TV platform.
The Bundesliga remains hugely popular in Poland given the involvement of Lewandowski and his national team colleagues Łukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund) and Jakub Błaszczykowski (VfL Wolfsburg).
Eurosport, the pan-European sports broadcaster, was the Bundesliga broadcaster in Poland up until the end of last season.
Both Eurosport and TVP, the Polish public-service broadcaster, are thought to have been vying with Eleven Sports for the Bundesliga rights in Poland in rights negotiations at the start of the year, and the competition drove a healthy increase in the price.
The German top flight has proved popular for Eurosport, with some 806,000 Poles watching last season's clash between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich on Eurosport 2, making it the most-watched programme ever on the channel in that market.
Having left the Saturday 6.30pm package unsold, the Bundesliga retained the right to choose the match offered in the midweek rounds and in the last two rounds.
Following the launch of Bundesliga International’s European rights tender, it was Lagardère Sports that initially looked likely to win the rights in Poland after submitting a strong proposal. However, a deal with the agency did not go through and the rights went back on the market.