ARD's Balkausky Says Channel Won't Change Concept And Bid For More Bundesliga Rights
German public broadcaster ARD Sports Dir Axel Balkausky told SBD Global the channel will not bid on additional Bundesliga rights but "continue with its very well-working program concept." The live rights for football Bundesliga games are in the hands of German pay-TV channel Sky until the end of the '16-17 season. Sky, which acquired the live rights for the next four seasons in '12, will pay an average of €485.7M ($633M) per season starting with the '13-14 season. Asked if ARD will challenge Sky for the live Bundesliga rights when they are up again in '16, Balkausky said, "The way I see it, ARD will, also in 2016, continue with its very well-working program concept consisting of 'Sportschau Fußball-Bundesliga' and several live games -- opening games of the first and second half of the season, relegation games and DFL Supercup." Balkausky added: "Additional live rights beyond the existing ones will likely not be in our interest as those comprehensive live rights for Bundesliga games have produced very high prices in recent history, which makes them simply not viable for ARD." In addition to its "Sportschau Fußball-Bundesliga" to which an average of 4 million viewers tune in on Saturdays to watch the first free-to-air TV footage of Bundesliga games, ARD also has the live audio rights to Bundesliga games through '16-17. The "Bundesligakonferenz" (Bundesliga simulcast), featured since the league's inaugural season in '63-64, attracts up to 8 million listeners each week. Balkausky said, "The 'ARD Bundesligakonferenz' is indeed an institution. The purchase of the Bundesliga audio rights was certainly very important for its continued existence."