FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Telekom has softened the blow of losing internet broadcast rights to top-flight German football by striking a deal with Sky Deutschland that lets its customers view matches.
Pay-TV operator Sky heavily outbid Deutsche Telekom in an auction for Bundesliga rights last year, a major blow to the telecoms company, whose Entertain internet TV platform has almost 2 million customers.
Under the agreement announced on Friday, Telekom can continue to show Bundesliga matches, though customers who have booked its special Bundesliga package – called "Liga Total" – will have to agree to additional contracts with Sky from the 2014/15 season.
Telekom did not say how much it was paying Sky, which is shelling out a total of 485.7 million euros (396.7 million pounds) per season for cable, satellite and internet TV rights together.
Germany’s Bundesliga matches draw an average television audience of about 18 million people, only about a sixth of the U.S. Super Bowl’s viewership but still representing almost a quarter of football-crazy Germany’s population.
Shares in Sky Deutschland, part-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, were up 2.1 percent at a 3.5 year high of 4.45 euros, making it the top gainer on Germany’s MDAX index. Deutsche Telekom was up 0.5 percent at 8.79 euros.
The agreement between Deutsche Telekom and Sky will run until mid-2017 and also provides for Telekom customers to subscribe to Sky’s other packages offering further sport, film and high-definition (HD) channels.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Victoria Bryan; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)
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