MTG swoops for Finland’s Champions League rights as YLE extends deal

Modern Times Group, the multi-territory commercial and pay-television broadcaster, has acquired rights to the Uefa Champions League in Finland, while public-service broadcaster YLE has retained its rights to the European club football competition.

Under the terms of the new three-year rights deals, spanning the 2015-16 to 2017-18 seasons, MTG will show all the matches from the Champions League in Finland on its Viaplay online streaming service and a new television channel.

The new Viasat Sport Finland channel will show the key matches live with local commentary from every Tuesday and Wednesday match day in the Champions League’s group and knock-out rounds, as well as the competition’s final.

Viasat Sport Finland will be MTG’s new flagship sports channel in the country. It will be available to all Finnish households through Viasat’s direct-to-home satellite platform, as well as third party cable, IPTV and digital terrestrial television providers. Besides football, the channel will also show live ice hockey matches from both the NHL and KHL. MTG currently holds exclusive rights to the North American and pan-European leagues in Finland.

MTG’s deal adds a new market to its Champions League portfolio, with the company having held rights to the competition in Sweden, Norway and Denmark on a long-term basis.

Finland’s Champions League rights are currently held by YLE and commercial and pay-television broadcaster MTV3 in three-season deals, from 2012-13 to 2014-15. YLE’s status as an ongoing Champions League broadcast partner had been in doubt, but it has now agreed to extend its contract across the same three-year term as MTG.

YLE will have the first pick of games on Tuesday evenings, along with highlights rights, the final itself and the annual Super Cup game between the reigning Champions League and Europa League victors.

YLE sports manager Panu Pokkinen said: “In December, we had already decided to forsake the pursuit of further rights, when the price of the competition was becoming unhealthy. However, in the spring the rights-holder wanted to return to the negotiating table with us, and we reached an agreement rapidly.”

The rights have been acquired via Team Marketing, which is Uefa’s worldwide agent for the exploitation of commercial rights to the Champions League.