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German Bundesliga media rights to be awarded

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's football league will announce on Thursday who has won the television rights to Bundesliga football for the next four seasons, after an auction it hoped would double its revenues to as much as 4 billion euros ($4.56 billion).

The rules were set this time to ensure that Rupert Murdoch's Sky could not repeat its acquisition of all the live media rights for the top Bundesliga league, in a move likely to have generated interest from more parties, boosting proceeds.

Germany's DFL football league had argued that the financial needs of professional football clubs could only rise in future and that media rights proceeds were a crucial source of funding.

The proceeds are still likely to be well under the record 5.14 billion pounds ($7.47 billion) secured by the English Premier League - primarily from Sky and BT - for domestic rights for the three years from 2016-2019.

Apart from Sky, Britain's Perform Group, German free-to-air broadcasters ProSiebenSat.1 and RTL , Discovery's Eurosport and Constantin Media's Sport1 were seen as potential bidders in the German auction.

Close to half of Germany's population of 81 million watches the Bundesliga on television, with many viewing highlights packages on free-to-air TV. Sky Deutschland has 4.5 million subscribers in Germany and Austria.

With the ability to show content on multiple platforms increasingly important - including to Sky - TV, Internet and mobile rights were auctioned together this time.

But there was a provision that if any single party won all the live rights for the first-division Bundesliga games, a bundle of web and mobile rights would be clawed back to be auctioned to a third party.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by David Evans)

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