BT Sport grab Champions League rights in £1.2bn exclusive deal

TV camera

March 7 – Having complained about the ever-inflating cost of broadcast rights to football, BT Sport has stumped up a huge £1.18 billion for UEFA Champions League rights that will see the world’s leading club competition exclusively on the pay broadcaster in the UK for the three seasons from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

The new rights package also covers the UEFA Europa League. The £394 million a year deal is a 32% rise on the previous £299 million per season deal.

BT currently shares Champions League rights with terrestrial broadcaster ITV in the UK who have a highlights package. That deal disappears under the new arrangement though BT has said it will make weekly highlights free to watch on social media.

“Viewing figures on social media are really, really massive. One third of 15 and 16-year olds don’t watch linear TV at all,” said John Petter, chief executive of BT’s consumer division.

The new BT deal coincides with the new ‘double-header’ broadcast format for the Champions League that sees kick-off times at 6pm and 8pm during the group stages. This effectively increases live broadcast possibilities by 35%.

BT has said that the higher rights fees will not automatically mean a hike in prices for subscribers. BT Sport first won the UEFA rights from Sky in 2015 and since then has established itself as the premium channel for mid-week football.

Until then BT’s football coverage was limited to a smaller package of Premier League rights behind a dominating Sky Sports. BT’s requirement to land the UEFA rights to drive its pay services have become similarly equivalent to Sky’s business need to retain Premier League rights.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1638363641labto1638363641ofdlr1638363641owedi1638363641sni@n1638363641osloh1638363641cin.l1638363641uap1638363641