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Bundesliga signs TV deal with 21st Century Fox

Christian Seifert, general manager of the German football league (DFL) attends a news conference at the German Soccer Federation (DFB) headq
Christian Seifert, general manager of the German football league (DFL) attends a news conference at the German Soccer Federation (DFB) headq

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Bundesliga has signed a five-year global broadcasting agreement with 21st Century Fox, the German league said on Monday, as it seeks to broaden its international exposure and close the gap on England and Spain.

The deal, starting from the 2015-16 season, will see matches from the top two German divisions broadcast in every country in north and Latin America, a majority of countries in Asia including Japan, as well as selected European territories.

"These deals underline the fact that the Bundesliga has been recognized as a top media right in the sports business world," said German football league (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert in a statement.

"The collaboration with global partner 21st Century Fox gives German professional football new chances for wide global reach and growth in the near future."

The deal includes the United States, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand but not India or the Indian subcontinent.

For China, the rights can be used in English language programming.

The contract for the territories in Europe - Italy, Netherlands and Belgium - runs for two years to include the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 seasons.

The DFL currently earns about 70 million euros ($94.94 million) from international media rights for the Bundesliga and the new deal with Fox covers about 80 markets worldwide.

The DFL can expect to double their foreign media rights revenues due to the Fox deal and several other contracts, with Seifert having targeted between 100-150 million euros for the next rights period.

"The Bundesliga has, on and off the pitch, developed into a leading global football league," said James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox deputy COO.

"We look forward to working with the DFL and will use our unique offer of sports broadcasters to attract an even bigger global audience to the Bundesliga."

Neither the DFL nor Fox released any financial details of the agreement.

HIGHEST ATTENDANCE

The Bundesliga has been experiencing a financial boom in the last few seasons with record attendances, growing television rights revenues, including from international deals, while also enjoying success on the pitch.

Turnover rose to over two billion euros in 2011-12 from one billion euros in 2001-02.

The top-flight clubs posted a combined profit after tax of 55 million euros and a total turnover of 2.081 billion euros in 2011-12, up 7.2 percent from 1.94 billion in the 2010-11 season, the DFL has said.

Treble winners Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund posted their best ever results in the past fiscal year.

The Bundesliga also enjoys the world's highest average attendance per league game with over 44,000 spectators in the 2011-12 season. The English Premier League is in second place with 34,000.

On the pitch, Bayern beat Dortmund in an all-German final of the Champions League - Europe's premier club competition - last season. Four German teams are competing in this season's tournament.

The Premier League is the world's richest soccer league in terms of television revenue and outperforms its Spanish and German rivals when it comes to selling overseas.

Sales of rights around the globe have inflated total television revenues for the 20-team league to an estimated 5.5 billion pounds ($8.77 billion) over the next three years.

In comparison, the Bundesliga's top two divisions generated media revenues of just over 653 million euros for the 2011-12 season, up from 593 million in 2008-09.

Italy could also be close to a multi-billion euro deal for a six-year rights contract, according to local media. Reports suggest the deal could bring in as much as 900 million euros annually.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner in Frankfurt; Editing by John O'Brien)

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