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BT retains rights to Uefa Champions League, Europa League in UK

UK telco BT has retained exclusive, multi-platform rights to the Uefa Champions League and Europa League for the 2021-24 cycle, it said Friday.

The inventory also includes the new third-tier Europa Conference competition, which has its inaugural edition in the first year of the new deal, and the Uefa Super Cup, contested by the winners of the prior season’s top-tier Champions League and second-tier Europa League.

Under the deal, BT will have rights to a total of 420 live matches each season from 2021-22 to 2023-24. This is a rise of 77 matches from the current deal, and includes highlights and in-match clips.

The agreement is worth £400m (€460m, $507m) per season, which is slightly up on BT’s £394m per-season outlay for the current 2018-21 cycle.

The fee represents a significant success for rights-holder Uefa’s sales agency, Team Marketing, given the generally bearish sentiment that has characterised the sports-rights market in recent years. For example, the English Premier League suffered a 9.6-per-cent drop in the value of its domestic live rights for the 2019-2022 cycle.

Team had set a November 11 deadline for bids for the Champions League/Uefa Super Cup and Europa League/Europa Conference. The latter two competitions were offered as a joint tender, separate to the joint Champions League and Uefa Super Cup offer. The two tenders were launched on October 7.

SportBusiness Media understands the Champions League tender was split into four packages: the first-pick Tuesday match, the first-pick Wednesday match (including the Super Cup and pay-television or pay-per-view rights to the final), all other matches, and the free-to-air rights to the final.

The rights to both the Champions League and the Europa League/Europa Conference League were sold on a platform-neutral basis.

Pay-television broadcaster Sky and commercial broadcaster ITV are also thought to have submitted bids. OTT streaming service DAZN was touted as a possible bidder, using the rights to launch its platform in the UK, although it is unclear whether it eventually submitted any bids.

Team’s placement of the Uefa club competition rights in the UK follows swiftly on last week’s news that broadcast networks CBS and Univision have acquired English-language and Spanish-language rights, respectively, to the properties in the US. Local media reports the broadcasters will pay between $140m (€136m) and $150m a season for the combined rights, an increase on the $105m-a-year deal paid by current rights-holders Turner and Univision.

The equivalent tender process in France is currently underway, with a bid deadline of November 27.