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BT retains majority of rights to UEFA football until 2027

BT Sport Football

UK telco group BT says it has secured the rights to the majority of the UEFA Champions League games, plus all the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Europa Conference League exclusively live.

There will apparently be a new format for the three European competitions from 2024, adding 12 more teams, more matches, and the introduction of an additional ‘knockout-playoff’ round.

Meanwhile, it is being reported that Amazon – which has been making strides with its tennis coverage – is near the point of securing rights to a chunk of Champions League games for its platform, though there hasn’t been an official announcement at the time of writing.

BT says last season its coverage of UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League clocked a 37% increase in ‘UEFA Champions League viewer hours’, which is an oddly phrased metric but at least it’s in the right direction.

“BT Sport continues to be the home of the UEFA Club Competitions until 2027 and we are extremely proud to have the privilege of twelve years of broadcasting one of the most exciting competitions in the world,” said Marc Allera, Chief Executive of BT’s Consumer Division. “It is fantastic news for our viewers that from 2024 we will be able to show more games than ever before live and exclusive on BT Sport.”

Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA Marketing Director added: “We are delighted to be extending our partnership with BT until 2027. BT has been a long-standing UEFA club competition partner since 2015, where it has applied industry leading broadcast expertise to European club football. Throughout 2024-27 BT will broadcast more live matches than ever before, which will be supplemented by its exceptional array of original programming.”

It’s going to cost BT £305 million per year, and it will pay a deposit of £61 million in July 2022.  BT Sport is supposed to be moving into the joint venture being created between BT and Warner Bros Discovery, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Assuming all goes ahead with that, the new entity will pick up the bill apparently.

BT says the financial outlook for FY23 remains unchanged, and it expects group revenues to reduce by £0.5bn-£0.6bn per annum relative to FY22. ‘We do not expect a material impact on our FY23 adjusted EBITDA outlook. We will confirm the full impact on all our outlook metrics following completion,’ read the announcement.

Apparently the final between Liverpool and Real Madrid had 12.6 million people tuning in across all platforms, which if nothing else goes someway to show why the rights to broadcast the games are so sought after, even though the returns for the core telco business might not always seem obvious.

The other thing to factor in is the optics of splashing cash around whilst in the middle of the dispute with workers over pay, which today culminated in a vote to strike by CWU members. Of course, these sorts of deals are bound to be a long time in the making, but the timing could be seen as a little unfortunate for those making the case that there is no money in the pot for more pay rises.

 

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