The 2019-20 Bundesliga season will be the last of the league’s current five year international rights contract with FOX Sports, which was signed in the Fall of 2013. Naturally, speculation has been mounting as to who the league will look to align with for its international audience in the future.
Reports in the Spring indicated that the Bundesliga, in its next US broadcast deal, was looking to find the right balance between price and size of the audience a bidder can offer for its broadcast rights. Bundesliga International CEO Robert Klein also stated that the league was looking to strike a healthy balance between broadcast TV and online streaming that will help its viewership in the US grow.
It appears that the speculation may be about to end, as the New York Post reported today that the Bundesliga will soon sign a deal with ESPN for its US broadcast rights beginning with the 2020-21 season.
The financial terms and length of the contract were not divulged as the deal is not yet official, but in terms of broadcast coverage, it is widely believed that the majority of the Bundesliga’s matches will be featured on ESPN’s streaming service ESPN+. There also remains the real possibility that some matches will be shown on one of ESPN’s linear television networks.
ESPN+, which carries a monthly subscription fee of $4.99, is already home to a plethora of soccer leagues and content, including Serie A, the FA Cup, and all out-of-market MLS matches. The service is also home to the network’s soccer dedicated studio program, ESPN FC.
Obtaining the Bundesliga rights however, would give ESPN and its family what many regard as the second most appealing international soccer league, after the English Premier League, which is broadcast on the NBC Sports network.
The Bundesliga is a special league. Its rich history, intense fan culture, and a growing contingent of young American stars, such as Red Bull’s Tyler Adams, Wolfsburg’s John Brooks, and Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent, make it a unique offering in terms of content and broadcasting.
It has large growth potential in the US, and the right amount of coverage, access, and cultivation, all of which ESPN has the ability to provide with its large base of networks and streaming service, will better enable the Bundesliga to grow exponentially larger and reach dozens of new fans across the country.