BT to show all UEFA games, leaving Sky in the cold

By Marc Castro

Nov 09, 2013 09:49 PM EST

BT had scored a coup in the multibillion pound sports broadcasting market. The new company was able to corner a GBP900 million deal for exclusive broadcast rights to European football competitions between 2015 and 2016. Competing for the bid was Rupert Murdoch's Sky channel.

The deal would require BT to pay UEFA GBP299 million per season for the next three years for all the 350 live matches in the Champion's League as well as the Europa League. This would provide BT the leverage to the most awaited sports moments in football history and ends Sky's domination of the broadcast rights to the sport that has become the cornerstone of the broadcaster's broader appeal. 

The battle between the networks started when BT paid GBP738 million for 38 live Premier Leagie matches per season as well as signing up presenters Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding from Sky. The two alongside many others would be broadcasting from the new studios in London's Olympic Park. This is in line with the company's GBP1.5 billion invesment into sports broadcasting. It is also the biggest step in repackaging the company into a 21st Century  multimedia business.

The current Champions League deal, where both iTV and Sky share, is worth just GBP400 million. This increased revenue from television broadcasting would be a financial windfall for the league, the players and the other parts of the game but remains to be seen if it would be good for the fans of the game. 

One drawback though to this deal is the insistence of UEFA to allow some matches, such as the finals matches in both leagues, to be shown on free television to preserve the league's sponsorship deals and ensuring the wide reach of the sport and the game would be viewed by a larger audience free of charge.

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