BT renew UEFA club rights for £1.2bn adding more matches and technology boost

November 19 – The broadcast market may be disrupted by piracy and challenger broadcast platforms, but big money for premium product is still available if the £1.2 billion UK pay TV broadcaster BT Sport is paying for the next cycle of Europe’s Champions League is an indicator.

The deal, for the three-year cycle 2021-2024,  covers the Champions League, Europa League and the new Europa Conference League. The sum paid is close to the amount BT paid for the last three-year cycle but this time round increases the number of mid-week games the broadcaster will have by 77 to 420.

BT’s deal includes highlights and the increasingly important in-match clips.

For BT Sport, that is very much in the shadow of Sky with about 1.8 million subscribers to Sky Sports’ 7 million, the UEFA rights package will underpin the channel’s future and its competitiveness in the marketplace. Without the Champions League deal BT Sport’s consumer proposition was in danger of lacking significant subscription driver or subscriber retention content.

With English teams dominating European competition last season, BT Sport reported a 26% increase in Champions League viewer hours last season. The Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur final saw a viewing record 11.3 million people across all platforms after BT made the match available on UK social media.

Marc Allera, BT’s consumer division chief executive, emphasised the multi-platform approach to making games available, saying: “Sport leads the way when it comes to Uefa Champions League coverage… – whether that’s broadcasting 12 games simultaneously or delivering industry leading images in 4K UHD.

“With increasingly more ways to watch our content, with more games on show than ever before, and alongside our excellent line up of other competitions and sports, BT Sport is going from strength to strength.”

It was a point emphasised by UEFA marketing director, Guy Laurent Epstein, who said: “All matches will be available across the BT Sport channels and digital services and in addition UK football fans will be able to enjoy club competition highlights for free on social media …audiences will continue to enjoy the competitions in new ways via BT’s innovative approach as it showcases new technologies.”

It was a good week for UEFA’s partner sales arm TEAM marketing last week who also announced a new $140 million per season US deal with CBS and Univision – up $40 million on the previous deal with Turner and Univision. That deal will also kick in with the 2021-24 rights cycle.

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