BT see off Sky to keep Champions League rights

Inflation in cost of premium sports rights shows no signs of abating after 32% hike

BT has held on to the exclusive rights to Champions League football in the UK for another three years after seeing off Sky with a blockbuster £1.18bn bid (€1.37bn).

BT paid 32 per cent more than its existing £897m deal to keep control of all Champions League and Europa League rights in the UK until the summer of 2021.

BT is paying £394m a season under the new deal, a big increase on the current £299m a year, as rampant inflation in the cost of premium sports rights shows no signs of abating.

Before BT Sport entered the market two years ago, Sky and ITV had shared the Champions League rights in a deal worth £400m.


Viewing figures for the Champions League football have dropped in recent years, a fact highlighted by Sky when it lost the rights to BT at the 2013 auction.

BT has promised wider viewing access to the Champions League, with clips and highlights to be made available free on social media, as well as both finals.

Last season, BT streamed both finals on YouTube.

The deal means ITV will no longer be able to broadcast Champions League highlights after matches have finished on BT.

However, BT is set to explore sub-licensing deals with free-to-air partners in the UK, such as Channel 4 and ITV, after competition sponsors expressed concerns to Uefa about the lack of exposure under the existing deal.

Guy-Laurent Epstein, the marketing director at Uefa, said: “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 fan base that consumes sport in different ways.”

After submitting its bid last week, Gavin Patterson, the BT chief executive, appeared at a conference where he complained about theinflation of sports rights in the UK market.

*In Ireland RTE has the television and online rights to show Wednesday Champions League matches until 2018, while TV3 can show Tuesday Champions League matches.

Eir Sport meanwhile has exclusive rights in Ireland to show all live televised games from both the Champions League and the Europa League until the end of the 2017/18 tournaments.

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