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ESPN+ acquires Bundesliga rights for US streamer

Disney has acquired the US Bundesliga rights for its ESPN+ premium streamer in a six-year deal.

ESPN+ will play host to the German football league following the end of the current season and the expiration of its contract with Fox, which ran from 2015. The company says that the deal is a year longer in order to build up to the 2026 World Cup, co-hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada.

There is a vested interest in the Bundesliga in the country, with it currently being home to 11 US players – more than any other top European League. 

Speaking to Reuters, Bundesliga International CEO Robert Klein said: “We decided that this was a good duration also because of the narrative and the development that the Bundesliga has in the US national team.

“Germany will continue to be an important source of talent for future US national teams. To drive that (narrative) to the World Cup made sense in terms of the time period.”

ESPN+ currently has more than two million subscribers, though Disney has said that it could attract up to 12 million by the end of the 2024 financial year. 

This growth will likely be contributed to by the US$12.99 bundle of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, announced in August. The sport streamer has a standalone cost of US$4.99 per month, while Hulu runs at US$5.99 per month and Disney+ will be US$6.99 when it launches on November 12.

Overall, the proliferation and globalisation of streaming is having a significant impact on the valuation of sports broadcast rights. A new report from Rethink TV predicts that revenues are likely to grow by 75% over the seven year period between 2018 and 2025 from US$48.6 billion to US$85.1 billion.