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Uefa eyes Champions League broadcast role for OTT platform

European football’s governing body Uefa has said it is exploring the possibility of using its OTT streaming platform to broadcast the Champions League and Europa League club competitions in certain markets.

Uefa’s sales agency, Team Marketing is currently in the midst of tendering broadcast rights for the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle to the two tournaments and the new third-tier Europa Conference League.

Significant deals having already been struck with telco BT in the UK and the CBS network in the US.

In June, Uefa launched a free-to-air OTT streaming platform to show live and on-demand video content from various competitions, including national leagues, with the German Bundesliga the first to be broadcast.

The service, UEFA.tv, offers a wide range of ancillary and archive content as well as live coverage of youth, women’s and futsal Uefa competitions in relevant markets.

Speaking to the Financial Times newspaper, Uefa general secretary Theodore Theodoridis admitted that UEFA.tv could be utilised in markets where strong broadcast rights offers are not forthcoming. “For now, we have lots of (broadcast) partners and are looking forward to continuing our partnerships,” Theodoridis said. “We just want to be ready. We just want to have alternative options.”

Theodoridis said Uefa is seeking to “experiment” with its own internet streaming channel in a few national markets outside Europe, where current broadcast deals are worth in the region of €5m ($5.5m) to €10m per year. Uefa could also seek to move to a solely online streaming model for its rights in markets where television broadcasters fail to offer a strong enough bid.

“Traditional broadcasting has been there for sport and for football in general,” Theodoridis said. “Now we need to explore, also for the digital side. That’s what we’re trying to do.”