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Interview with Rodrigo Lombello of Gol TV


Rodrigo Lombello is the COO of our favorite network in America GolTV. I sat down for an interview with the congenial Palmeiras supporter to talk about GolTV’s recent renewal of their Bundesliga package for the next three year.

(his answers are in Bold)

Is the new rights package, the same offered by DFL Sports Enterprise?

Yes, it is. It includes every game (306 matches) live as well as the preview show Goal! And the weekly highlight show Hallo Bundesliga. The main difference in the package for GolTV is that in addition to the US and Canadian rights, we have exclusive rights to show the Bundesliga in Latin American for the next three years.

The Bundesliga is restructuring the schedule next year. There will be a Friday night match, five 3:30 Saturday matches, a new 6:30 Saturday match, a 3:30 Sunday match and a new 5:30 PM Sunday match. (these times are all CET, which is 6 hours ahead of EST). How will that affect scheduling?

Currently our plans are to continue to show 2 to 3 games each weekend, live and tape-delayed. The new Saturday late match looks to be a marquee game each week.

Marquee game?

Yes, the league is going to try to make that game a big match.

Typically on Saturday, we get our games tape-delayed, is there any chance this later game could provide more live coverage.

Yes, we have had to use tape delay because Germany is six hours ahead of the East Coast, but 9 hours ahead of the West Coast, which has key markets like Los Angeles. Since we use a single feed for the entire country, we have shown games tape delayed so that the west coast won’t get their games at 6:30 in the morning. With this new game, the match will be at 9:30 AM for the West Coast and it is our hope that we can accommodate more live matches next year.

Well the new times must help, since the old structure had typically 6 to 8 games at the same time, which tied your hands in programming.

Yes, but we are looking into other avenues to provide more programming in the coming years either through partnering with other channels or taking advantage of on-line distribution. Since we own every game, we are working hard to find new means of connecting the fans to the games.

And the Friday game? Can you tell me more about that?

Well the Friday game has a few issues. First it’s at 2:30 EST when everyone is at work. In addition, it rarely involves the more well-known clubs, who are usually involved in mid-week European games. Anytime it involves Bayern, we show that game live and tape-delayed.

Is Bayern the only team that draws substantial numbers?

Not at all. While they do provide the best numbers, Schalke, Hamburg and Werder Bremen have had consistently strong audiences. The Bundesliga is the second biggest league for us, after La Liga; however, I think it’s better to view the games from a team perspective rather than a league perspective. The bigger clubs, whether from Spain, Brasil or Germany have a brand, and that brand carries weight when it comes to an audience.

Does using the DVR with your matches hurt your numbers?

No, we get a Live rating followed by Live+3 days, Live+7 days and Live+10 days. These latter option will pick up any taped viewers. However if you watch it live and tape it, it will show up on the Live rating.

Can we expect the promotion/relegation matches to be shown?

We have the rights to the games. Depending on programming priorities and the time of the matches, we are hopefully going to be able to show it.

And will you continue to show German National games?

That is a separate deal, not incorporated under the DFL package, but we do expect to continue showing German National games for the foreseeable future, especially World Cup Qualifiers.

Finally, two years ago you had a great promotion that sent two lucky viewers to German to watch two live matches. Can we expect anything like that in the future?

Currently we are running the Soccer Cam promotion w with a grand prize of a trip to the Emirates Cup this summer. After that is done, we are going to run another Bundesliga promotion.

Can I bribe you to win that?

(laughs) No.

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  1. floormaster squeeze

    June 1, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I just want to also say that I want more Bundesliga matches (I appreciated the comments of Luke, Evan and Abby above). This last season was bad. There were some weekends in which there was only 1 game and none that I can remember with 3. I would love 4 (Friday, 2 Saturday starting early, and Sunday). It seems that with the change in schedule that 2 Sunday games are possible as well.

    I appreciate the interview and Mr. Lombello’s contribution. But at the same time it was disheartening. The whole “2-3 games” a weekend was dishonest (mostly 2 with sometimes 1 is honest) and the misreading of the “balanced” numbers was disheartening (the reason why Bayern do not draw that many more viewers is simply because fans in the US are interested in watching the best games–which means Hoffenheim v. Wolfsburg if they are doing well regardless of “brand”). The Bundeliga is a great brand that Gol-TV started to screw up this year (they failed to give us the best game each weekend and missed on Hoffenheim in the first half and Stuttgart/Wolfsburg in the second half–what is the point of having the flexibility of choosing the best games if they do not do that?). Hopefully, they will improve simply by showing more games.

  2. Abby

    May 26, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I’m miffed at losing the Friday game- as a fan of a team that isn’t Bayern Munich (or even Schalke, Hamburg, or Werder Bremen), it was often one of the few times I could see my team on my TV if they weren’t playing those teams. I know it’s not as exciting but it meant a lot to me.

  3. Double Pivot

    May 26, 2009 at 8:42 pm


    I didn’t ask because Pokal rights are owned by Setanta is North America.

    I understand frustrations. I have been frustrated in the past and tried to keep a level head rather than crying, “Please Show More”. But I think the changes in the schedule and the emergence of an internet option will help us all next year.

    While I love the Friday game, I just can’t argue with his reasoning.

  4. Evan

    May 26, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    GOLTV has done a terrible job covering the Bundesliga. When they first started showing the games, they had both the Friday and Saturday live games, and those were the two I was sure to watch. The Friday match was a great way to start off a soccer tv weekend, which I DVR’d and watched as soon as I would come home from work. Which teams played was not the overriding factor, as it was a new league game to watch on a Friday. Instead, the games were replaced by 5-day old reruns from the previous weekend…why is that preferable programming? As for the Saturday live match, I would watch the early Premier League match and switch on over at its conclusion to the Bundesliga match. When they stopped showing the live game, I tended to select another PL match from either Setanta or FSC. GOLTV seemed to have no problem showing the live Sunday Italian Serie A match when they had the rights, and that would air at 6 am in the West, and FSC shows a 7 am (PT) English game each Saturday and a 6 am (PT) Italian game each Sunday. GOLTV should not bid for a league where there are morning matches in the US if they are not willing to show them live…or even show very many of the games at all! I cannot remember the last time they showed more than two Bundesliga matches in a weekend. When there was a Bayern game on a Friday, and they showed it, they ended up reruning the match in the Saturday slot, instead of showing a new Saturday match.

  5. Luke

    May 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    First of all, great job DP, for getting the interview and for covering pretty much all of the ground that needed to be covered. The only other thing I might have asked about is Pokal matches going forward, but I’m sure that would have yielded a non-commital response.

    I am glad Mr. Lombello explained very simply, that they feel a 6:30 a.m. start time is just too early to reach their West Coast viewers. It would have been nice for them to come out and say this when they started delaying the matches, or at least informed the poor intern answering the emails of this! That said, I think this is pretty faulty reasoning because 1) On a Saturday morning, go into the particular soccer pub of any town of reasonable size in California at least, and I guarantee you, that you will find a sizeable contingent of Premiership fans who have arrived a long way before 6:30 (or never left Friday night), not to mention expats of other countries that are just out of luck; the Germans make do watching Ballack. 2) At 6:30 on the west coast, you will in fact hit something of a soccer-dad audience. By 8:30, they’re off to the kids practice/game. So there’s my unscientific measure on that.

    The first part of his response about Friday matches is a bunch of hooey. Champions League matches are in the middle of the afternoon as well, and I’m sure the viewership numbers come out quite nicely for them. It really does come down to “no one in the US cares about Bielefeld vs. KSC.” But I guess I’m of the opinion, that one of GOLTV’s jobs is to make people care, if not provide the service to this very narrow audience that *never* gets to see their team.

    One thing I still don’t really understand, and this applies to the Saturday as well as the Friday matches: If you own them, why not just show them? I mean, why not show the same match at 9:30 and 11:30 EST? I think the answer boils down to what happens in the production room. I guess GOLTV provides a “host”, puts some graphics up at the breaks, and does a few in-game promos, but all of that is pretty superfluous. You’ve got a sat transmission that comes direct with UK announcer standing in the booth in Cologne and native graphics..would it be that hard to just have one master control operator flip the switch at 9:30 Miami time? Apparently it is. Would love to hear why my thinking is totally impractical! 🙂

    Looks like they have no plans to show the relegation playoff. Apparently the “programming priority” is to show a rerun of Saturday’s matches!! Actually, I could actually see only showing the second leg, but then again, it’d be on a 2 hour delay given the start time..

    So, let’s hope they find a way to stream matches via some kind of subscription system (I believe there was a failed attempt at this once before by another company), that is the way all TV is going anyhow, and we could be done with the scheduling squabbles.

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