Clear DFL announcement: Bundesliga ghost games not on free TV


Frankfurt / Main – Football fans in Germany have to do without a stadium experience for a long time – but despite the increasing longing for live events, possible ghost games will only be shown on Free TV in exceptional cases.

“Offering everything freely accessible to everyone would affect the contracts that we also have with the public service broadcasters, or destroy the value completely. This would mean that we would be in breach of contract, ”clarified DFL boss Christian Seifert.

The rights to live broadcast of Bundesliga games are held by the Pay-TV broadcaster Sky and the streaming service DAZN. According to Seifert, the German Football League is in talks with both companies about how the goods of football can be transported in as many living rooms as possible in times of the Corona crisis if the season, which is suspended until at least April 30, continues. We are working on solutions that do justice to this exceptional situation and, of course, are trying to find opportunities to make very special offers. But we’re not there yet, said Seifert.


It is conceivable that there might be an exception to a league restart that has not yet been scheduled. It was planned for the 26th and 27th matchday in mid-March when Sky wanted to make the conferences of the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga free to receive. «In challenging times, we all have to stand together. It goes without saying that we do our part by sharing these games with everyone so that as many football fans as possible can experience the Bundesliga live, »said Devesh Raj, CEO of the pay broadcaster, at the time.

However, because the initially planned ghost games had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, nothing came of it. This is not a permanent solution anyway, because Sky is the biggest paymaster in the league with an average of 876 million euros per year and can therefore hardly do without re-income from the pay-TV offer.

The size of the fans’ hunger for football was observed last weekend. More than two million fans watched the Bundesliga Challenge at the game console on the Internet, while on ARD 1.83 million people watched the replay of the EM quarter-finals 2016 between Germany and Italy on Saturday. The first recorded more viewers than at the previously broadcast “Sports Show” (1.51 million). The classic of the sports programs is currently shortened to around 20 minutes due to a lack of Bundesliga reports and otherwise has more than three times as many viewers.

However, the most important free TV provider is cautious when it comes to discussing possible changes to matchday schedules. “We are waiting for what the DFL proposes to us as a contractual partner,” said ARD sports coordinator Axel Balkausky. The basis for discussions must be a concrete idea. We don’t deal with possible models beforehand.

An emergency schedule with daily schedule, which is only speculated for in the event of a late continuation of the season in June, would form the basis for both the “sports show” and the Sky conference – by far the most popular football formats in the TV market for fans revoke. However, the pay-TV channel could increase the demand for individual games, especially since the fans will not be able to follow the Bundesliga in the pubs and beer gardens for the foreseeable future.

DFL boss Seifert does not want to take part in such speculations. I don’t want to get involved in other models that are not currently on the table. We currently see no reason to plan an extreme scenario – a game every day, said the 50-year-old. “We believe that we can end the season in a regular way.”

DAZN would not be so badly affected by a change of the schedule. For the new teammate, who is allowed to show 40 individual games per season, the most important thing is that the ball rolls again at all. Because as long as the game is suspended, the streaming service cannot offer the contractually guaranteed goods.

Because this increasingly leads to problems with customers, DAZN has already stopped paying to sports associations worldwide. According to information from the industry services “Sportspromedia” and “Sportbusinessdaily”, this concerns the sums due for canceled and postponed events. It is therefore not only Seifert who believes in the thesis that “a great many people would be happy if the Bundesliga can be seen on the screen again soon”. In whatever form and on whatever channel.