Saban pressures Premiere via Bundesliga bid

BERLIN — Georg Kofler, head of German pay TV platform Premiere, said he won’t bend to pressure from Haim Saban to sell him part of the multichannel digital broadcaster.

Saban looks set to use Bundesliga national league soccer rights as leverage to acquire a piece of Premiere. Saban has made an offer to Kofler, who owns more than 20% in Premiere, as well as the fee TV broadcaster’s main shareholder, investment group Permira. Saban appears ready to outbid Premiere for the lucrative and in Premiere’s case extremely vital rights to Bundesliga soccer.

ProSiebenSat 1, the multichannel free-to-air broadcasting group Saban took over last year, is said to be offering around E600 million ($733 million) to the German Football League (DFL) for pay TV rights to the next three seasons of Bundesliga soccer — well over $120 million more than Premiere’s offer.

Kofler stressed that a sale linked to the Bundesliga rights was out of the question.

Pricey move

The Premiere topper, who once headed ProSieben before it merged with Sat 1, predicted that an acquisition of Bundesliga rights to the next two seasons would cost ProSiebenSat 1 well over $610 million — a sum Kofler said would put Saban’s company in the red for years. Premiere, which was once a sister company to ProSiebenSat 1 when both were still part of the Kirch Group, is heavily dependent on the popular Bundesliga, which has long served as a main attraction for subscribers.

ProSiebenSat 1 chief exec Urs Rohner has confirmed that ProSiebenSat 1 is considering a foray into pay TV, saying the digitalization of Germany’s cable systems would offer new and cost-effective opportunities for feevee ventures, but he has declined to comment on the Bundesliga bid.

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