Bundesliga lands ESPN broadcast deal for US

October 1 – Germany’s Bundesliga, which has been targeting commercial expansion in the US market, has secured a six-year broadcast deal with subscription streaming service ESPN+.

The new deal will begin in August 2020, ending the Bundesliga’s current deal with Fox that expires at the end of this season.

While the bulk of the Bundesliga’s 300-plus matches will be on ESPN+, selected games – four per season – will air on ESPN’s linear channels while highlights will be available in ESPN programmes and on the ESPN App and ESPN.com.

Bundesliga International CEO, Robert Klein, said: “They will help us build on the strong connections the Bundesliga has with the US having welcomed more American players than any other European league. They’re attracted by the authentic, entertaining soccer we describe as ‘Football As It’s Meant To Be’, played in front of the largest spectator numbers in the sport and epitomised by the highest goals per game average of all top European leagues. Germany will continue to be an important source of talent for future US national teams and with ESPN we’re incredibly excited to take fans on their journey in the lead up to their home World Cup in 2026.”

For the Bundesliga a motivation for switching to ESPN from Fox was the increased number of games that will be available for fans and the marketing possibilities for the league around that. The league had already said that getting its content exposure was at this stage in its US development more important than cash on the table for TV rights.

ESPN says that ESPN+ is not a sidelining of the product despite it being a subscription streaming service. It currently has more than 2 million subscribers to its package that is bundled with its corporate cousin Disney+ and Hulu. The package is available for $12.99 in the US.

Klein “With a new bundle coming in November we will soon be in the 10s of millions during the length of this contract,” said Klein.

ESPN+ already has more than 2,000 games a season in its package, however the addition of the Bundesliga sees the adding of one of the world’s big leagues that has 11 US national team players at German clubs – more than any other of Europe’s big five leagues. Several of those players will be crucial for the US as they build competitiveness towards World Cup hosting in 2026.

They include Weston McKennie (FC Schalke 04), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), John Brooks (VfL Wolfsburg), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Khiry Shelton (SC Paderborn), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Brady Scott (1. FC Köln).

Russell Wolf, Executive Vice President and General Manager, ESPN+ added: “With a strong connection to the American soccer community, a growing audience in the U.S. and some of the most well-known clubs and players in the world, the addition of the Bundesliga further cements ESPN+ as a must-have for any soccer fan.”

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