In the NFL an unlikely ally could offer the Bundesliga a pathway towards salvation
In the NFL, the Bundesliga has recently partnered up with an unlikely ally. A partnership that might help the Bundesliga weather a storm that is to hit the sport industry in general.
I am writing this on the eve of yet another Germany defeat, this time against Austria, and I would have been more than tempted to point once again at the structural issues of the DFB, the DFL, and German football in general. Structural issues that might even further shake German football if some early indications of television rights collapsing in other countries also hold true in Germany. In all this doom and gloom, a deal with the National Football League (NFL) could offer the Bundesliga a pathway out of a downward economic spiral and open the door to the lucrative US market.
Any avenue that would bring in additional money outside of television revenue would be paramount at a time when leagues struggle to hold on to lucrative media deals. Indeed, Italy’s Serie A has just signed a deal that is worth just €900m a season. That’s significantly below the hoped-for €1bn a season mark that Italian football was desperate to generate. The same is true for La Liga, which now stands at €990m per season. Not to forget France, where the broadcast rights auction was scrapped after no bidder met the minimum requirement.
The last Bundesliga deal was signed during the first year of COVID-19 and, although slightly below the previous deal, at €4.4bn over four years, was significantly above €1bn per season. Within the hallways of the DFL offices in Frankfurt, there is a sense of optimism that the negotiations with the likes of DAZN, SKY, and new players like Paramount+, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV will lead to positive outcomes. But there are no guarantees that will happen.
Perhaps a drop in television money would be a blessing in disguise. After all, Germany’s most productive years as a football nation came on the backs of a television crisis and the almost bankruptcy of Borussia Dortmund.