Premiere sells World Cup to RTL

German commercial broadcaster RTL will screen up to 18 live matches of the soccer World Cup 2010 on free-to-air television, following a sub-licensing deal with pay-TV operator Premiere. The move means all of the tournament will be shown free-to-air, with ARD and ZDF screening the remainder.

The rights were acquired from Premiere, which secured the pay-TV rights for all 64 matches in June 2005. The rights package includes the 18 games which public broadcasters ARD and ZDF will not screen and which would have been available exclusive to Premiere subscribers. Instead, the affected matches will now be shown both by RTL and Premiere.

The pay-TV broadcaster did not explain the reason for its decision to relinquish its exclusive contingent of the Cup matches, but spoke of a “very good economic result” achieved through the deal with RTL. Financial details were not revealed.

ARD and ZDF will show 46 matches on free-to-air television, including all games with the German national team, the opening game, both half finals and the final. RTL secured the free-to-air TV rights for nine matches, including a quarterfinal game, with the option for nine further matches.

This leads to a scenario as with the 2006 World Cup, during which ARD, ZDF and RTL shared the free-to-air rights while Premiere screened all matches in pay-TV. The subscription broadcaster also wants to transmit all games in high definition.