Forget the beautiful game, football these days is all BT Sport this, Sky that and pay TV the other.
But you just want to stretch out in front of the TV at home (or head down the boozer) to watch your favourite team without having to think about financial land grabs going on in the world of football rights, right? Yeah, us too.
Well never fear, RadioTimes.com is here to unpick the corporate powerplays, and help work out what all this means to normal people.
Essentially, as you may or may not know, BT has just signed a three-year deal for European football costing £897m.
It’s a clear signal of intent from the telecoms provider, giving it all 350 matches in the Champions League and Europa League broadcast live each season from 2015 until 2018.
Up until now it was shared by ITV and Sky, so for the first time ever a single UK broadcaster has won the exclusive live rights to the tournament.
So if you want to watch it, well… we’re not sure what to do yet as BT hasn’t said how it will charge for access to these games and nothing will change until the new deal comes into operation – but that is for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Currently BT broadband customers have free access to its sports content but that is almost certain not to be the case by the end of this season.
So don’t give up on Sky too quickly. It is still the dominant partner for the Premier League and is likely to remain so. It currently has rights to show 116 games a season until 2015-16. BT has the rights to 38 live Premier League matches a season, including 18 “first pick” games.
Whether Sky continues to dominate in the next round remains to be seen on how negotiations for the next set of games pans out. But Sky has certainly had a shock with BT paying more than double what it would have been prepared to pay for the European tournaments.
So from 2015 and you like your football and want Premier League, Champions League and Europa Cup football you will probably be needing to subscribe to Sky and BT.
If you are an occasional fan you can still watch some matches on free to air there is some good news. UEFA – the European game’s governing body – has insisted that some matches under the new BT deal, including both Europa and Champions League finals, are shown free-to-air which is some consolation. ITV may also buy up a highlights package when the time comes.
Elsewhere… well, thin pickings I’m afraid. BBC1 will also be holding on to its Match of the Day highlights programme of Premier League games for three more years having just signed a £179.7 million deal to keep their rights.
BBC Radio also has the rights to most games you would care to follow.
Rightly calling itself the home of live football commentary on the radio, it airs commentary from 128 Premier League games as well as Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, Europa League, Home Nations’ Internationals, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
But on TV the trend is for ever more costly rights deals meaning a bigger tab for fans. Currently one game in every round of Champions League matches is shown on ITV, as well as some Europa League games. However BT will reduce this, merely promising that every participating British team will be shown free at least once a season to non-subscribers. We are yet to see how this will be delivered.
Once a season?
Sadly it looks like football only just got more costly, dear fans.