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BREAKING: Bundesliga signs six-year deal with ESPN

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Starting in August 2020, the Bundesliga will be found on ESPN’s family of networks in the United States.

Borussia Dortmund v SV Werder Bremen - Bundesliga Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

If you are in the United States and want to Bayern Munich’s broadcasts next season, you had better make sure you have access to ESPN.

The Bundesliga has signed an agreement with the network to start broadcasting the league’s games in the United States in August of 2020. The league current relationship with Fox will sever at that time.

The move could offer viewers more options to find Bundesliga action as the ESPN+ streaming platform will play a major role for viewers. Per ESPN’s own story and press release on the news:

The deal will include more than 300 top-flight games each season on ESPN+ and ESPN networks, as well as live streams of the DFL Supercup and relegation playoff matches.

Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming, ESPN, is ecstatic to add the Bundesliga to the network’s portfolio of sports leagues:

We’re thrilled to reach this kind of multi-year agreement to bring one of the world’s most passion-filled and exciting soccer leagues to the most innovative sport service in the U.S. Like ESPN, the Bundesliga has embraced technology, putting the fan at the heart of all they do by consistently delivering world-class content.

Appropriately, ESPN seems to be looking to capitalize on the influx of American players heading to the Bundesliga. The deal, it seems, should give Americans much more access to follow some of the best young players from the United States national team as they develop.

Per ESPN+ Executive Vice President and General Manager Russell Wolff, the presence of players like Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), and Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf) all made the Bundesliga an attractive broadcast partner for the network:

With a strong connection to the American soccer community, a growing audience in the U.S. and some of the most well-known clubs and players in the world, the addition of the Bundesliga further cements ESPN+ as a must-have for any soccer fan.

Bundesliga spokesman and former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann told ESPN that the Bundesliga’s appeal as a good league for development helps attract young Americans like those listed above:

I think the Bundesliga is a league that traditionally always gives a chance to young players coming through the ranks. It’s always based on performance. When an American player comes overseas and he performs, he gets a chance to play. There’s not much politics involved, the coaches are usually pretty straight forward and so if the kid understands ‘it’s all down to my performance and I get a chance,’ then the Bundesliga is the place to be.

The agreement will also include the rights for ESPN to broadcast highlights across ESPN programming and is various website and apps. In statements to Forbes, however, Bundesliga executives wanted it to be clear that this was not strictly a streaming deal. Bundesliga Vice President for the Americas Arne Rees specifically wanted it to be apparent that this is a full-scale deal:

First of all, I want to say there is no ESPN+. What it is it’s a partnership with ESPN. Most of the games will be on ESPN+, but it is a partnership with ESPN, an organization that has about 90 million people that use the digital format. That number goes to about 200 million if you add all the TV and radio users to that. What ESPN+ is now and what ESPN+ will be by the time we start our contract are two different animals.

Bundesliga International CEO Robert Klein said the partnership will be key in helping promote the 2026 World Cup, which will take place in the United States, Mexico, and Canada:

It was clear from the start that ESPN and ESPN+ shared our ambitious vision. As innovators in the sports industry, we’re both driven to deliver highly engaging content for fans. They will help us build on the strong connections the Bundesliga has with the U.S. having welcomed more American players than any other European league.

They’re attracted by the authentic, entertaining soccer we describe as ‘Football As It’s Meant To Be’, played in front of the largest spectator numbers in the sport and epitomized by the highest goals per game average of all top European leagues. Germany will continue to be an important source of talent for future US national teams and with ESPN we’re incredibly excited to take fans on their journey in the lead up to their home World Cup in 2026.

While ESPN is part of most basic cable packages, the cost for ESPN+ is $4.99 per month. ESPN will also launch a new bundle on November 12th that will allow users to access Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ all in one package available for $12.99 in the United States.

The contract will run for six years and end in 2026. No financial details were released on the arrangement.

UPDATE [10:05AM EST]

Per Sports Business Daily, the deal is worth $30 million per year: