In a competitive situation, British telco giant BT has beaten out Sky for exclusive UK broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in a £1.2B ($1.4B) deal. The mammoth win for BT will see the soccer matches air on its pay-TV sports service BT Sport until the end of the 2020/21 season. In the deal, BT will also take the highlights package, meaning the Euro soccer knockout competition will no longer be shown on terrestrial television, meaning ITV will lose the late-night showing where it was broadcast free-to-air since its inception in 1992.
BT Sport has been airing the Champions League and Europa League competitions since 2015, when it shelled out a huge £897M ($1.1B) for the rights in a deal agreed in 2013. BT Sport, owned by the UK’s biggest broadband and mobile operator BT, has said that in the new deal, it would make clips, weekly highlights and both finals available to watch for free on social media.
The deal, worth £394M ($482M) per year, is a 30% hike on what the company already pays for the coveted soccer rights and is a sure sign of increasingly fierce competition for sports rights in the territory. In 2015, the UK’s Premier League sold its latest round of soccer TV rights for a record-breaking $7.8B ($9.5B) to Sky and BT, a 71% increase from the previous rights’ auction, also won by the two companies. Sky paid £4.2B ($5.1B) for five of the seven TV packages while BT coughed up £960M ($1.78B) for the other two. That deal runs for three years from 2016.
“We are delighted to have renewed these rights,” said BT Consumer CEO John Petter. “The UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League are two of the best competitions in the world and we would like to thank UEFA for choosing us as their exclusive broadcast partner in the UK. The UEFA Champions League is due to get even stronger and we are delighted that fans will be able to enjoy two live matches a night for the first time.”
UEFA Marketing Director Guy Laurent Epstein said: “UEFA is delighted to have extended the relationship with BT Sport for a further three seasons, taking our partnership to 2021. BT Sport has proved to be an innovative broadcast partner, pushing the boundaries and covering the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in new ways. BT have delivered strong audiences in the UK and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media which will engage a growing fanbase that consumes sport in different ways.”