BT Sport have cemented their status as a direct competitor to Sky Sports and ITV by outbidding both broadcasters to claim the exclusive UK live rights for both Champions League and Europa League football.
The new broadcaster paid out close to £900 million to show the world’s biggest football club competition for three years from 2015, marking the first time in decades that the Champions League will not be shown on terrestrial channels.
The amount far exceeds the existing deals held by ITV and Sky which stand at £155m and £240m respectively. According to reports, BSkyB’s bid of £500m did not even come close to BT Sport’s offer, which sees them forking out a staggering £299m per season. Meanwhile, ITV are said to have offered just £220m to retain their Champions League and Europa League contract.
“I am thrilled that BT Sport will be the only place where fans can enjoy all the live action from the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League,” said BT chief executive, Gavin Patterson.
“Both tournaments are world class and firm favourites with many. The live rights will give a major boost to BT Sport and give people yet another reason to take our terrific service.”
Sky have also released a statement in response to this morning’s news, stating, “We bid with a clear view of what the rights are worth to us. It seems BT chose to pay far in excess of our valuation.
“There are many ways in which we can invest in our service for customers. We take a disciplined approach and there is always a level at which we will choose to focus on something else. If we thought it was worth more, we’d have paid more.”
As part of the new contract, BT Sport have committed to showing each British club free-to-air once per season, although that is unlikely to appease the many terrestrial viewers and Sky customers who will no longer be able to view European football come 2015.
BT Sport’s latest move firmly establishes them as a live sports broadcaster, with their current two million subscriptions likely to grow in the coming months.
The broadcaster first launched its service last summer with a string of high profile presenters including Football Focus frontman, Jake Humphrey, and Olympics presenter Clare Balding. They’ve been embroiled in a bidding war with Sky ever since, paying £738m over three years for the rights to 38 Premier League games per-season, although Sky continue to hold on to the lion’s share of matches for the time being.