German TV Soccer Rights Awarded to New Player

23 December 2005

German pay-TV company Premiere has been sent off the pitch by soccer bosses.

The country's football league has awarded the rights to show live national games to Arena, part of cable company Unity Media. The move sent incumbent Premiere's share price spiralling down by around 45%.

The €1.3 billion ($1.53bn; £885m), three-year agreement with the cable TV conglomerate came about after satellite broadcaster Premiere's higher bid was undermined by its demands for exclusivity on too many fronts.

However, Premiere ceo Georg Kofler dismissed speculation that the company might have to say 'auf wiedersehen' to significant numbers of its 3.4 million subscribers as they defect to football elsewhere. He claims other rights, such as the European Champions League and World Cup tournaments, will keep customers loyal.

The Unity consortium, meanwhile, is in talks with the biggest cable company Kabel Deutschland about sharing the newly-acquired rights, while Deutsche Telekom will show the games online.

Data sourced from International Herald Tribune; additional content by WARC staff