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Discovery Wins Soccer Fight With Sky Deutschland

Discovery Communications’ European sports network Eurosport won its fight to stop the largest satellite TV service provider in Germany from marketing itself as the exclusive home of Bundlesliga soccer, after a German court issued an injunction against Sky Deutschland, adding that the satellite service mislead consumers.

The Regional Court of Cologne, 31st Civil Chamber issued the injunction late Monday. According to the ruling, the court found deceptive consumer practices in Sky Deutschland’s campaign “Every Game, Every Goal” regarding its coverage of Bundesliga soccer. Sky Deutschland had been the exclusive provider of Bundesliga soccer until last year, when the league opened up bidding for its games to other providers after the Federal Cartel Office, Germany’s anti-trust agency, initiated the “no-single buyer rule” for rights to the matches. Eurosport has the rights to 40 Bundesliga games, while Sky Deutschland airs 572 of the 612 games each season.

Sky Deutschland is a subsdiary of Sky plc, which is in turn controlled by 21st Century Fox. The German ruling comes as Fox awaits word from U.K. regulators on whether it will be allowed to buy the remaining interest in Sky plc it doesn't already own. That decision is expected to be announced on June 29.

“Discovery has an obligation to ensure fans understand which Bundesliga matches they can watch, when they can watch them, and where,” Discovery Networks Deutschland said in a statement. “With consumers at the core of our business, we therefore felt it necessary to take action against Sky Deutschland, who have blurred the lines between fact and fiction, stating that all matches in the upcoming season will only be available on Sky’s platforms. A claim that Sky has been making that is complete fiction and in our view detrimental and confusing, to millions of sports fans throughout Germany.”

Beginning in August, Discovery Networks Deutschland will air every Friday night primetime match, five Sunday afternoon and five Monday evening matches exclusively, as well as the Supercup and four relegation games. All of the matches will be available through Discovery’s direct-to-consumer offering, the Eurosport Player, on the TV screen, computer and mobile devices.

“We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with the DFL and showcasing football to the highest standards for football fans in Germany,” Discovery Networks Deutschland continued in its statement.