The 2015-16 Bundesliga season will be the first of a five-year deal to show the top flight German league on US television. The new rights holder, FOX Sports, hasn’t released any details yet regarding its coverage plans, but World Soccer Talk recently sat down with DFL Sports Enterprises Managing Director Jörg Daubitzer to discuss how the Bundesliga will help FOX, as well as what soccer fans can look forward to.
Speaking in Miami at the Sportel America conference, Daubitzer shared his excitement regarding the upcoming greater distribution of the league in the States. “FOX Sports will make sure that more matches are broadcasted on the traditional TV channels or on the digital side, so this means a lot more opportunities for fans to see the games.”
Many soccer fans in the United States have a long history of admiration for the German league — from the days of the TV show Soccer Made In Germany on PBS in the 1980s with Toby Charles, through to the Bundesliga coverage on Fox Soccer Channel in the 2000s with Max Bretos and Allen Hopkins, as well as the coverage on GolTV in later years, which unfortunately has been hampered by GolTV being dropped by many TV providers.
To move the Bundesliga to the next level in the United States, the league is ready to help FOX Sports.
“FOX Sports will have a lot of opportunities to get separate material from the Bundesliga, like the news magazines, etc,” said Daubitzer. “At this stage, there are many discussions about what to do, and how to do it. Our intention is to help and support them wherever we can because we know that the broadcasters have a big impact on the relevancy of our league and games.
“We are flexible wherever we can to support our partners [so they can] have the biggest success they want. One of the reasons why we chose FOX Sports is because we know that they could handle the property and build it up. They do it via every available platform. They know how to play the game, and I think they know it better than us.”
Asked about the rising number of US National Team players plying their trade in Germany, and how the Bundesliga can help FOX Sports tell their stories, the league is ready to assist.
“I think there’ll be a lot of opportunities,” said Daubitzer. “For example, if they want to have more footage or interviews of [the US national players playing in Bundesliga], we will support where we can.
“You should keep in mind that the major broadcaster in Germany is Sky Deutschland. And they’re one of the companies in the 21st Century empire (including FOX Sports).
“Sky Deutschland has a 24/7 news channel in Germany, and they have so much content and material that I’m sure that they’re able to help each other with footage and interviews.”
Among fans of Bundesliga clubs in the United States, one of the concerns they’ve expressed is that FOX Sports may favor showing Bayern Munich games on television, to the detriment of lesser known Bundesliga clubs who may find those games only on FOX Soccer 2GO or not shown at all.
“We always have to find the right balance between treating all clubs as similar as possible,” said Daubitzer.
“On the other hand, we sold our rights very expensively to a partner. FOX Sports has the right to broadcast the most important matches. More matches will be broadcasted than before, so I think there won’t be so [many] risks that some [teams] will be falling out completely.
“The smaller clubs, or the not so well-known clubs, understand that it’s important to have flagships. And flagships usually are a little more preferred but [the smaller clubs] are taking benefit out of that as well.”
Given that Germany are world champions and its teams are successful on the European stage, there’s a lot of renewed interest in the German top-flight league. Plus there are many other advantages that will be appealing to American audiences.
“The most important aspect of the Bundesliga is that the league is highly entertaining,” added Daubitzer. “The games are very attractive because on average we see the most goals in the Bundesliga when compared to any other league in the world.
“This means that they will see offensive football. They will see attractive football with a great mixture of young and talented players, and even international stars. They will find successful teams from the Champions League. It’s the right mixture between the attractiveness on the field and the attention to have a sustainable business model.
“This is the best attended soccer league in the world. In professional sports, there’s only one league beyond that — the National Football League. This means [there’s an] exciting atmosphere [and] ‘pure football feeling’ — which is important as well but not only for the spectators in the stadium but for the viewers at home.”
The 2015-16 Bundesliga season will debut on FOX Sports in August, 2015.
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