Top German football club Bayern Munich is targeting growth in the US as it pushes to close the gap with high-spending rivals in the English Premier League.
Oliver Kahn, chief executive of Germany’s dominant team, said the club was seeking to expand its fan base overseas, with a view to boosting the long-term value of global broadcast rights for the Bundesliga football league.
“For us it’s very important to attract new fans all over the world and grow our fan base outside Germany. The US is a very, very interesting market where we have a lot of fans and where we as Bayern Munich see a lot of growth in the future,” Kahn told the Financial Times.
A former captain of both Bayern and Germany’s national side, Kahn recently led the team on a brief summer tour of the US, playing DC United in Washington and English champions Manchester City in front of almost 80,000 fans at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin.
Bayern’s goal is to help boost interest in the German league, which has lagged far behind the Premier League in terms of international broadcast rights.
Last year, the English top tier agreed a new six-year deal with US broadcaster NBC for $2.7bn — almost double the previous agreement. The league now generates more income from overseas TV deals than it does domestically. The US rights to the Bundesliga are worth about $250mn under its current six-year deal with ESPN.
Bayern earned about €254mn from broadcast rights last year, according to Deloitte, compared with €335mn at Manchester City and €310mn at Real Madrid.
“We need better commercialisation of the Bundesliga TV rights in the US — I think this is the most important point,” said Kahn. “If you look at the valuation of the MLS [Major League Soccer] clubs, they have a very high valuation. That shows that football in the US is growing.”
The US is due to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico. Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Juventus and Chelsea also toured the US this summer, a sign of increasing interest among top clubs in tapping into the American market.
As part of its global push, Bayern unveiled a multiyear deal last week with US technology company Adobe. The partnership is designed to give Bayern a better grasp of how its fans interact with the club online, which Kahn hopes will enable it to reach new supporters.
“Every club and league needs to produce attractive content for its fans, so that we can play a leading role in this football entertainment industry,” he said. “It’s very important that we can create individual content for different sorts of fans all over the world — that’s the key for everything.”
Kahn admitted that the Premier League had several important advantages over the German league, including years of investment overseas, the English language and stronger competition at the top of the table. Bayern has won the Bundesliga for 10 consecutive seasons.
“The Premier League is a very exciting league. Before the season starts, I think there are four or five teams that have the chance to win the championship. In the Bundesliga at the moment, we are very dominant at Bayern Munich,” he said. “But this is not a problem of Bayern Munich, this is a problem of our competitors.”