Amazon close to groundbreaking deal over Champions League rights in UK

US internet retailer and streaming giant set to split the UK rights with existing holder BT Sport

Amazon is close to securing a groundbreaking deal to broadcast Champions League football in the UK for the first time, marking a significant increase in its ambitions to become a major live sport broadcaster.

The US internet retailer and streaming giant, which already has a broadcast portfolio spanning Premier League football, tennis and rugby, is understood to be set to split the UK rights with existing holder BT Sport in a new deal with the governing body, Uefa.

BT, which has aired Champions League football since 2015 after beating the then joint holders Sky and ITV with a blockbuster bid, paid £1.2bn at the last auction for exclusive rights until 2024.

Uefa is hoping to see an increase of 20 per cent in the value of the new deal, which also includes Europa League and Europa Conference League games, according to Bloomberg. Uefa is also selling the rights to highlights, with ITV tipped to be a contender.

For Amazon, the deal is likely to be the biggest it has struck in the UK and cements its position as a major player in live sport broadcasting. In 2018, Amazon moved to break BT and Sky’s stranglehold on Premier League football with a deal to broadcast 20 live matches a season.

The company has proved that it is willing to spend big on rights if it believes the content can drive subscribers to its Prime membership, who are much heavier and more frequent spenders on Amazon’s sites.

In March, Amazon struck an 11-year deal, valued at $1bn (£824m) annually, to broadcast live NFL football in the US.

Last month, BT struck a £633m deal with US media company Warner Bros Discovery to create a joint venture pay-TV sport business combining BT Sport and Eurosport, home to rights including pan-European Olympics coverage. — Guardian