Exclusive: ARD/ZDF to block out World Cup on Hot Bird

April 24, 2014 10.05 Europe/London By Jörn Krieger

ARD+ZDFGerman public broadcasters ARD and ZDF will not broadcast the games of the Football World Cup 2014 on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird satellite system at 13° East due to rights restrictions.

The broadcasters’ live coverage of all 64 World Cup matches will only be transmitted on Astra (19.2° East) which has a smaller footprint than Hot Bird and acts as the main DTH platform serving domestic satellite households in Germany.

“The contractual agreement with FIFA does not enable ZDF to distribute the coverage on Eutelsat Hot Bird,” a ZDF spokesman told Broadband TV News. He added that no decision has been made yet which programmes will replace ZDF’s World Cup transmissions on the Eutelsat satellite.

A spokesperson from SWR, the ARD affiliate handling the World Cup coverage, told Broadband TV News that, according to the present state of knowledge, ARD will only distribute the World Cup matches on Astra, like it has been the case at the previous World Cup four years ago. SWR expects to make a firm statement on this matter in mid-May 2014.

The rights issue arises from Hot Bird’s large footprint through which ARD and ZDF reach, for example, expats, hotels, embassies and army troops in remote areas not served by Astra. The wide-beam transponders used by the broadcasters also cover the Middle East and Northern Africa where pay-TV broadcaster beIN Sports from the Al-Jazeera group has obtained the exclusive live broadcast rights from FIFA. With the removal of their unencrypted World Cup coverage, ARD and ZDF avoid a legal dispute with the rights holder in these territories.