SKY AND BT PREPARE FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MEDIA RIGHTS BATTLE
Sky Sports is expected to rival BT Sports for the television rights to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and Europa League, with bids set to be submitted today for the 2021 to 2024 broadcasting rights.
Sky has previously stated that due to the importance of Premier League rights, the Champions League isn’t a crucial extension of its portfolio. However, following the engagement BT received due to last season’s dramatic tournament, the prospect of the club competition may have become a more alluring prospect for the broadcaster.
Despite the popularity of the tournament and the importance of owning the rights to it, BT is likely to avoid a bidding war due to the fact that the broadcaster is currently embarking on a cost-cutting period in an attempt to increase the affordability of rolling out the latest implementation of broadband technologies, including 5G internet.
As well as the global allure of the UCL, the statuses of Premier League clubs such as Manchester City, last season’s finalists Tottenham and reigning UCL champions Liverpool have now been elevated to elite football which in turn has seen the value of the rights elevate significantly due to increased domestic interest and engagement.
Further to the increased domestic interest, UEFA has also attempted to elevate the value of the rights by providing broadcasters with extended matchday content following the implementation of staggered kick-off times which has allowed viewers the opportunity to engage with two consecutive live games for three consecutive match days.
Additionally, there also seems to be potential for the UCL to rekindle its relationship with free-to-air platform ITV as UEFA could attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the tournament and expand its reach through terrestrial TV.
As well as Sky, online giant Amazon has also emerged as a potential challenger for the rights as it looks to add to its portfolio which includes the recently acquired two fixture Premier League rights package it acquired earlier in the year.