Record revenues for Bundesliga as Seifert predicts no ceiling for TV rights
German soccer’s Bundesliga has revealed record revenues of €3.81 billion ($4.92 billion) for the 2017-18 season, an increase of 13 per cent on the previous season, boosted by the first season of a new four-year domestic television deal worth €4.6 billion with pay-TV's Sky Deutschland and Eurosport.
Revenues from media rights deals were up by a third last year to €1.25 billion, according to the Bundesliga’s annual report, and Christian Seifert, the league’s chief executive (pictured), told the Financial Times newspaper that he expects it to avoid the media rights “ceiling” hit by England’s Premier League and other leagues.
He said: “When you look not only to England, but Italy, Spain, France, [the value of domestic screening rights deals] . . . get a little bit closer to the ceiling. The German pay-TV market still has a lot of room to grow.”
The Bundesliga’s revenues of €3.81 billion mean it is the second most lucrative league after the Premier League, which brought in revenues of €5.3 billion in the 2016-17 season, while Spain’s LaLiga was worth €2.85 billion, also in 2016-17, according to figures from Deloitte. Figures for the 2017-18 season are yet to be reported for leagues.
Media revenue now accounts for one-third of the Bundesliga’s total income, having risen from 28.5 per cent to 32.7 per cent in the space of a year. The second-largest item is advertising revenue (22.9 per cent), followed by transfer revenue (16.9 per cent) and match revenue (14.1 per cent), which primarily consists of ticket sales.
The DFL said that a total of 18,773,618 tickets were sold for the 612 Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches in the 2017-18 season, an average of 43,879 tickets per match, meaning that the Bundesliga remained the best-attended soccer league in the world.Seifert said that digital groups could contribute to the continuing rise in the value of Bundesliga rights, after Amazon, the e-commerce giant, acquired radio rights to Bundesliga matches, and DAZN, the international OTT subscription streaming platform, said it plans to bid for domestic Bundesliga rights when they next come up for auction in 2020.
He said: “We are there not to screw our [broadcast] partners or to squeeze them, but to make them more successful. Only when our partners reach their goals, [will they be] willing to invest.”
The Bundesliga’s media rights generated €960.6 million in the 2016-17 period and remained the largest single item of the league’s revenues, up nearly 3 per cent on the previous 12 months.
In June 2016, the DFL generated €4.64 billion from the sale of domestic live and highlights rights across various platforms for the next four years, an increase of 85 per cent on the previous contract period.
This figure was exceeded with the sale of two more packages in September 2016.
Sky is committing an average of €876 million per season for the six German packages it picked up in June 2016, while Eurosport is thought to be paying €85 million for its package.
Sky acquired the bulk of the live rights – 572 of the 612 Bundesliga games each season and the 2. Bundesliga – while Eurosport has pay-TV rights to 40 live Bundesliga games played on Fridays (8.30pm), Sundays (1.30pm) and Mondays (8.30pm), along with non-exclusive rights to relegation playoffs and the Supercup.
Earlier this week it emerged that the Premier League is mulling launching a so-called ‘Netflix of football’, an over-the-top streaming service that could eventually by-pass the pay-TV broadcasters that have been its traditional partners in delivering the league to viewers worldwide.
A trial of such a service was planned for Singapore, but was eventually shelved in favour of a new, three-year pay-TV deal with Singtel, the telecoms group. It is understood that an OTT service was considered to be a realistic proposition, but that the clubs eventually opted for the Singtel offer.
The value of the league’s domestic live rights has increased from £670 million (now $858 million) in the four years from 1997-98 to 2000-01 to £5.14 billion in the current three-year cycle that concludes at the end of this season.
However, there has been a slight fall in the value of the domestic live rights, awarded to pay-TV’s Sky and BT Sport, plus internet giant Amazon, in the next cycle, from 2019-20 to 2020-21, to below £5 billion, albeit the difference is expected to be more than compensated for by an increase in international rights revenues, which are presently worth £3.3 billion over three years.
With one major international rights deal still to be agreed in India, the league has predicted that it is on course for an uplift of between 20 and 30 per cent in the value of its international rights in the next period.