Nordic sales process complete as Telia secures Champions League in Finland and Sweden

Swedish telco Telia has finalised its acquisition of Uefa Champions League rights in both Finland and Sweden, from 2021-22 to 2023-24, as Uefa and its appointed Team Marketing agency wrapped up the club competition rights sales process in the Nordics.

The new deals are for exclusive rights to all Champions League matches, as well as the Uefa Super Cup and all matches from the Uefa Youth League.

Telia owns TV4 Media (formerly Bonnier Broadcasting), the holding group which includes pay-television broadcaster C More and commercial broadcaster TV4 in Sweden, and pay-television broadcaster MTV3 in Finland.

In Finland, MTV3 is the incumbent Champions League rights-holder in the 2018-19 to 2020-21 cycle, whilst in Sweden rights are held in the same cycle by the rival Nordic Entertainment (Nent) Group.

The new rights deal in Sweden was last month reported to be worth around SEK1bn (€94.3m/$102m) per year, according to Dagens Media, the Swedish newspaper.

The deal is the first major sports acquisition that Telia has agreed since its takeover of TV4 Media was approved by the European Commission on December 2 last year. Telia initially announced the acquisition of TV4 Media in July 2018, but the deal was subject to a EU Competition Authority review.

In that time, Telia has seen Nent pick up a host of sports rights as well as missing out on renewing key rights in both Sweden (domestic top-tier football league, the Allsvenskan) and Finland (Formula One).

Telia was thought to be interested in English Premier League rights when the league went to tender earlier this year, however these were awarded to Nent in a landmark six-season deal.

It was, however, able to renew rights to Sweden’s second-tier ice hockey league, the HockeyAllsvenskan, last year for five more seasons, until 2025-26. A push for premium sports rights content now appears to be in full swing.

Casten Almqvist, chief executive officer of TV4 Media said today (Wednesday): “The Uefa Champions League has been at the top of our wish list of sports rights for a long time. This is the first example of how TV4 Media with Telia as our owner will raise the bar.”

Anders Jensen, president and chief executive officer of Nent said just over a month ago: “We made a bid for the Champions League in Norway and Sweden which I believe was reasonable in terms of making money from the investment. But we weren’t even close, so someone else has put a lot more money on the table.”

Jensen later claimed that the “price inflation moved well beyond what we could justify”.

Nordic 2021-24 sales process complete

Team Marketing initiated the sales process for media rights in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden on February 25, with a bid deadline of 10am (CET) on March 31. There were two concurrent sales processes for each territory in the region. One covered the Uefa Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Uefa Youth League, with the other covering the Europa League and new third-tier Europa Conference League.

Nent did however acquire Champions League rights in Denmark and Europa League and Europa Conference League rights in Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Champions League rights were acquired by commercial and pay-television broadcaster TV2 in Norway, whilst Europa League and Europa Conference League rights in Denmark were acquired by TV2 Denmark, the government-owned subscription and free-to-air broadcaster.

Three Champions League packages were offered in the Nordics tender.

Package ‘A1’ included the 16 first-pick Tuesday-evening matches each season, plus Tuesday highlights and 33 magazine programmes (per season). Rights to 16 first-pick Wednesday-evening matches each season were included in package ‘A2’, along with rights to the Champions League final and the Super Cup, plus Wednesday highlights and 33 magazine programmes.

Meanwhile, package B included a total of 104 live matches per season or, in other words, the Champions League matches not selected in packages A1 and A2. Delayed and archive rights, plus Tuesday and Wednesday highlights. The rights to the Uefa Youth League, were also part of this package.