In May, the Discovery-owned broadcaster announced its intention to exercise a ‘special termination’ clause in its contract that would allow it to get out of its €70 million a year deal for 45 Bundesliga matches per season. Discovery – which was already making a loss by sublicensing its rights to DAZN – was the only Bundesliga broadcaster not to renegotiate its deal during the league’s shutdown and instead opted for more drastic measures.
However, the German Institution for Arbitration (DIS) has overruled this and has concluded that Discovery’s plan to end its deal early was invalid. This was decided by three arbitrators, with one each from Discovery, the DFL and an independent outside body.
The DFL has said that the ruling is a ‘final judgement’ and that it still expects Eurosport to hold up its end of the deal.
Discovery meanwhile in a statement indicated that it would challenge the ruling. It said: “Discovery notes the arbitration panel’s decision. The reasons for the arbitral award are still pending. Given the legal and commercial nature of this matter, we will not provide further comment at this time.”
It was already unclear who would broadcast the 45 matches allotted to Eurosport for the coming season, but the situation has been made more murky given this ruling. Eurosport will not want to continue sublicensing the rights to DAZN given the poor financial return it saw in the past.
DAZN itself is thought to be awaiting further clarifying statements from Discovery and the DFL before considering its next move.
The sports streamer however will not have this confusion from the 2021/22 season, due to the fact that it and Sky Sports picked up the majority of the league’s rights for the next four year cycle in a cut-price deal.
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