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Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wants the Champions League back on free TV in Germany

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Bayern Munich’s CEO feels that it’s unfair to require paid service to see Champions League matches on television.

31 January 2019, North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Chairman of Bayern Munich, answers questions from a moderator at Spobis. Spobis is Europe's largest sports business fair.
31 January 2019, North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Chairman of Bayern Munich, answers questions from a moderator at Spobis. Spobis is Europe’s largest sports business fair.
Photo by Roland Weihrauch/picture alliance via Getty Images

Because of the fact that Champions League matches are only available through paid service providers in Germany, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge feels that they should be made free to view to help bolster larger viewership numbers. Per an interview with Rummenigge by Bild, viewership of Champions League matches in Germany has decreased by 84% since they stopped being broadcast on ZDF. To avoid more of a drop in viewership, Rummenigge feels that at least one major match between top teams should be shown for free on television:

Sport Bild published the viewership numbers on TV recently: 84 percent down since the Champions League is not shown on ZDF anymore. We have to throw everything on the scale at UEFA so that Germany gets to see at least one live match, ideally a top game, on free TV starting in the next rights period [i.e. 2021-2024].

German football as a whole would benefit from matches being televised for free, especially for all of the clubs involved in the Champions League: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, and Schalke (2018/19). This has been the first season in a while that Germany have had four slots in the Champions League and fans of those clubs should be able to watch their teams when they play, given how rich the football culture is in the country. Rummenigge stated,

The front offices in Dortmund, Schalke and Hoffenheim, who represent the Bundesliga in the Champions League this year, probably see things similarly. This is always in the fans’ interest, and we have to pay greater attention to it. I’ve always warned: we are not in England, where the games have been shown exclusively on pay TV for years, or in Spain. We have a different fan culture, and it should be taken into account

Major Champions League sponsorships have also taken a hit with less and less people opting to pay to watch matches, so Rummeigge feels that there has to be a proper balance between paid and non-paid matches:

Pay TV is the biggest payer in television marketing, but you still cannot forget: the sponsorship contracts in the Champions League are also very lucrative. But with a viewership drop of 84 percent in Germany, they aren’t being served enough anymore. A mixture of pay and free TV has to be arranged; otherwise, we run the risk that the Champions League does itself harm with respect to sponsorships in the middle term.

In Germany, next week’s titanic clash between Liverpool and Bayern will be available only on Sky Germany, a paid service broadcaster. For such a massive game in Europe’s most prestigious cup competition, people should have the option to view it for free. Why should anyone be deprived of watching a match of such magnitude, especially when Germany’s most successful club is involved playing against a team managed by Jurgen Klopp, a former Bundesliga manager?

FC Bayern Monaco v FC Liverpool - Audi Cup
Sadio Manè during the Audi Cup 2017 match between Bayern Muenchen and Liverpool FC at Allianz Arena on August 1, 2017 in Munich, Germany.
Bayern -Liverpool will be quite the tie! You WONT want to miss any of the action.
(Photo by Paolo Manzo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

What does everyone think: will UEFA start broadcasting matches for free eventually in every country?