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BT Sport to get exclusive Champions League & Europa League TV rights from 2015


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BT Sport to show Champions League and Europa League football from 2015

Uefa look set to announce three-year deal with BT Sport that allows the broadcaster to show Champions League and Europa League football from the 2015-16 season


BT Sport was close to declaring victory on Friday night in its battle to add Champions League football to its growing portfolio and deal what could be a huge blow to BSkyB and ITV.


The new broadcaster is understood to have been in final negotiations over the rights to show the world’s biggest club competition for three years from 2015, along with the Europa League.


It was unclear whether it was on the brink of securing a share of the UK rights or the full exclusivity for which it was also expected to bid, but it was increasingly confident of celebrating its biggest coup yet in its attempt to challenge Sky’s dominance of the pay-TV market.


Exactly how much it would have to pay for the privilege was also unclear but, amid such fierce competition, the value of the rights was expected to dwarf the £240 million paid by Sky and the £160 million contributed by ITV in the present contract.


Gavin Patterson, the BT chief ­executive, recently gave a strong hint of the network’s intention, saying: “This is a long-term strategy for us and you can expect us to do a lot more in the future.”


It is understood BT may commit to making certain matches available free-to-air across both the Champions League and Europa League, a tactic it has already employed with its Premier League coverage.


Being available to every household with a television in the UK has been ITV’s trump card in its relationship with Uefa, under which it has broadcast the Champions League since the competition’s inception in 1992. That had been an attractive prospect for sponsors, who do not enjoy the same reach on Sky Sports and would have even less exposure on BT Sport if all matches remained behind a paywall.


If ITV were to lose the rights to the Champions League it would spell the end of more than two decades of terrestrial coverage of the competition.


Surrendering the Europa League, the rights for which it holds with BT Sport, would leave it with no live club football from 2015, with the BBC and BT Sport having won the rights to the FA Cup after this season.


BT Sport securing Champions League football would also represent a defeat for Sky, which, it is understood, bid for the exclusive rights to the competition it has shared with ITV since 2008. So determined was Sky to prevent BT Sport adding the world’s biggest annual sports tournament to its roster, it is thought there was even the prospect of it making a massive offer to Uefa and sub-letting some matches to ITV to satisfy Europe’s governing body desire for some level of free-to-air coverage.


Sky and BT have been at war since the latter moved into sports broadcasting in an attempt to stop its rival poaching its broadband customers with the offer of a combined telephone, broadband and television service, so-called 'triple play’.


BT Sport became a serious player when it paid £738 million over three years to show the Premier League alongside Sky, which retained the lion’s share of live matches and most of the best ones as well. But BT Sport’s 38 games-per-season, alongside its other football and rugby rights, boosted its subscribers to two million.


It remains to be seen if Champions League football would add to that, particularly if it shows high-profile matches free-to-air. But securing the rights to two of the most valuable properties in the club game would make it even more of a force to be reckoned with.


Losing the Champions League would be a devastating blow to ITV, whose only remaining football rights would be to England’s home and away matches until 2018.

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If the numbers are right then it's just another nail in the coffin of this club and the many others that can't/won't get into the top four. As I said before, all this means is that the rich will get richer. They'll get even more money and spend even more money to ensure they get the money next time.

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