BT Sport retains Champions League rights ​in US$1.5bn deal
UK pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport has retained the ​exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League, securing a ​deal worth US$1.5 billion to broadcast European club soccer’s premier competition from 2021 through 2024.

Under the terms of the deal – the most lucrative for European soccer’s governing ​body in regard to the Champions League – BT will continue to show every game live and air highlights in the UK.

Under the contract’s terms, BT has secured the rights to all of the Champions League, and the second tier UEFA Europa League for a further three seasons as well as adding the new third tier UEFA Europa Conference League for the same period. The deal represents an increase of 77 games from the previous deal, and includes highlights and in-match clips.

The rights fee figure has now been ​confirmed, with BT’s UK£1.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) winning bid virtually matching what it paid during the last rights cycle. After paying a UK£80 million (US$102.99 million) deposit upon winning the bid, the broadcaster will make six cash payments of between UK£120 million (US$154.48 million) and UK£200 million (US$257.48 million) between August 2021 and February 2024

Marc Allera, BT’s consumer division chief executive, said: “Sport leads the way when it comes to UEFA Champions League coverage, and we’re very excited to continue to bring our world class coverage to one of the most exciting football competitions in the world – whether that’s broadcasting 12 games simultaneously or delivering industry leading images in 4K UHD.

“With increasingly more ways to watch our content, with more games on show than ever before, and alongside our excellent line up of other competitions and sports, BT Sport is going from strength to strength.”

UEFA Marketing Director, Guy Laurent Epstein, added: “All matches will be available across the BT Sport channels and digital services and in addition UK football fans will be able to enjoy club competition highlights for free on social media each match week, as well as the finals to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and the newly formed UEFA Europa Conference League. Its high quality production and programming standards set the bar for the industry and audiences will continue to enjoy the competitions in new ways via BT’s innovative approach as it showcases new technologies.”

It had been reported that BT would face challenges from commercial broadcaster ITV, pay-TV rival Sky and over-the-top (OTT) subscription service DAZN, but new Chief Executive Philip Jansen has secured a major contract without having to enter into an extortionate bidding race. The competition remains BT Sport’s flagship product and it enjoyed a 26 per cent increase in Champions League viewer hours last season. The final between Liverpool and Spurs saw record breaking 11.3 million people tuning in across all platforms after BT made available for all to watch in the UK on social media.

English teams have contested the last two finals, with Liverpool losing to Real Madrid in 2018 before beating Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur in last season’s showpiece. Whilst the rest of the competition was only available to subscribers, BT has been contractually obliged to make those two games available free-to-air, opting to stream the games via YouTube on both occasions.

The deal comes amid several ​rights sales processes for UEFA’s sales agency partner, Team Marketing.

Last week, Team secured deals in the United States with CBS and Univision, who will pay a combined US$140 million a season for Champions League rights, an increase on the US$100 million being paid by the current broadcast pair of Turner and Univision.