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Discovery Wins Ruling in Soccer Battle With Sky Deutschland

Variety logo Variety 6/26/2017 Stewart Clarke
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Sky and Discovery are locking horns again, this time over soccer rights, with a German court ruling against the pay TV platform in a battle over German Bundesliga soccer.

Discovery won a package of rights for over 40 Bundesliga games in an auction that took place last year. Sky previously held rights to all of the games but the local competition authorities ruled they had to go to multiple buyers. Discovery, which owns the Eurosport TV and digital platform, scooped up the pay TV rights to Friday games for the 2017-18 season.

Discovery took issue with Sky’s recent marketing campaign for its Sky Deutschland service, which Discovery maintains promised fans they could see all Bundesliga games and goals on channels carried by Sky Deutschland.

Discovery, however, will not be showing its games on the single sports channel it has on Sky, Eurosport 2. The games will actually be on the Eurosport Player streaming service, which is a direct-to-consumer offering in Germany and not available via Sky’s pay TV packages. Discovery is hoping to use the popular Bundesliga games to drive subscriptions to the direct-to-consumer iteration of Eurosport, which has been a high priority for Discovery Communications.

Discovery is understood to have taken measures to try and deal with the matter before involving the courts, with a private approach and a cease and desist letter that proved unsuccessful. The Regional Court of Cologne then ruled in favor of Discovery that Sky cannot claim to offer all goals and games.

“Discovery has an obligation to ensure fans understand which Bundesliga matches they can watch, when they can watch them, and where,” Discovery said in a statement. “With consumers at the core of our business, we therefore felt it necessary to take action against Sky Deutschland, who have blurred the lines between fact and fiction, stating that all matches in the upcoming season will only be available on Sky’s platforms. A claim that Sky has been making that is complete fiction and in our view detrimental and confusing, to millions of sports fans throughout Germany.”

The latest Discovery-Sky dispute comes soon after the pair resolved a bitter carriage renewal dispute that went down to the wire but ultimately ended with the Discovery channels remaining on Sky and both sides claiming victory. Sky Deutschland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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