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Vodafone mulls entering German soccer rights auction

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CIOL Bureau
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CALIFORNIA, USA: Vodafone is looking into bidding for the rights to show top-flight German soccer league matches on Internet-based TV and on mobile devices, possibly adding a new dimension to its rivalry with Deutsche Telekom.

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator in terms of revenue and the second-largest phone company in Germany after Deutsche Telekom, could bid for Bundesliga soccer games on its own or team up with a partner, a spokesman for the British group's German unit told Reuters on Wednesday.

No decision has been made yet, he added.

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Like Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone has branched out into providing TV content over its phone lines, encroaching on the turf of German cable TV operators such as Kabel Deutschland and Liberty Global's Unitymedia.

The bidding war that is expected over future Bundesliga broadcasting rights could also prove risky for Sky Deutschland, because the soccer league is the German pay-TV broadcaster's main draw.

Shares of Sky Deutschland, in which News Corp holds a 49.9 per cent stake, have lost 18 per cent over the past three months, in part on concern that it would engage in a costly battle with Deutsche Telekom over the rights.

Internet group Yahoo! Inc has said it plans to bid for rights to show online highlights of Bundesliga soccer matches.

German soccer league DFL is due to announce details of the bidding structure and rules of the Bundesliga tender for the 2013/14 season onwards in the second half of January.

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