December 8, 2016 / 10:09 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Axel Springer to launch German soccer daily newspaper

* Fussball Bild to be launched Jan. 20

* Germany's Bundesliga is Europe's 2nd-richest soccer league

* Springer says expects no negative effect on other titles (Adds more details, background)

BERLIN/FRANKFURT, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Publisher Axel Springer plans to launch Germany's first daily sports newspaper next month, focusing on soccer as it seeks to offset a decline in sales at its established print business.

"We believe that the time is ripe for a soccer paper," Matthias Bruegelmann, deputy editor in chief of Europe's top-selling daily paper Bild, said, adding that high TV viewing figures and big attendances in stadiums underline strong interest in the sport.

He did not believe the new paper, which will be called Fussball Bild and cost 1 euro ($1.08) at newsstands across Germany, would take away readers from its existing publications such as the tabloid Bild and weekly Sport Bild.

"Our test runs did not show any relevant cannibalisation," he said.

Germany won the last World Cup and the country is home to Europe's second-richest soccer league after the English Premier League. Bayern Munich are the dominant domestic force and have won the Bundesliga four times in a row.

Earlier this year Rupert Murdoch's Sky secured the Bundeliga broadcast rights for four more years in an auction that raised 4.64 billion euros or an average of 876 million euros a year. That was 85 percent more than what was paid in the previous TV rights auction.

Bundesliga games attracted an average of more than 43,000 people per game in the 2014/15 season.

Fussball Bild will be the Germany's first sports daily. Spain has a soccer-focused daily called Marca, which is published by Unidad Editorial and is the country's largest daily newspaper with 2.24 million copies.

Italy's 120-year old La Gazzetta dello Sport sells about 215,000 copies a day, its publisher RCS Media Group wrote in its third-quarter report. France also has a sports daily in the form of L'Equipe. ($1 = 0.9268 euros) (Reporting by Klaus Lauer and Harro ten Wolde; Editing by David Goodman/Keith Weir)

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