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Volume 26 No. 179
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ESPN Buys Bundesliga Rights, Will Air Most Games On ESPN+

The Bundesliga's U.S. rights are "moving to ESPN from Fox as part of a six-year deal" that runs through '26, according to John Ourand in this week's SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Neither side would comment on the terms of the deal, but sources said that ESPN "committed to pay north" of $30M per year for the rights, which begin next August. The deal has a "similar structure" to one ESPN signed last August for a package of rights including Serie A and the FA Cup tournament. Sources said that ESPN is paying $55M per year for that three-year deal running through '20-21. Deal terms have most of Serie A's "live matches appearing on the ESPN+ streaming platform and some on linear TV." For ESPN, the Bundesliga deal "helps solidify ESPN+ as a place for soccer fans." (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/30 issue). The N.Y. Post in July first reported a deal was likely.

MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL: The AP's Ronald Blum noted select Bundesliga matches "will be televised on ESPN's traditional networks but the overwhelming majority will be on ESPN+." The net also acquired rights to the German second division, the German Super Cup and "relegation-promotion playoffs." Bundesliga CEO Robert Klein "anticipates the league to work with ESPN on wraparound programming featuring players." ESPN's "SportsCenter" is "likely to boost Bundesliga coverage" (AP, 9/30). The German league is "particularly attractive to U.S. fans because 11 Americans are playing there, including some rising stars." ESPN now has the "chance to showcase some of the most exciting young American players," like Schalke MF Weston McKennie and Werder Bremen F Joshua Sargent. After Bundesliga leaves Fox, the net will have "no European leagues" (AFP, 9/30).