Sky news update: In early November 2013 BT pipped Sky to the post when it came to purchasing the rights to show the Champions League from 2015 onwards.
Sky has owned the majority of the rights to show Champions League action for many years now. There was great speculation over what would happen at this year’s auction with the recent introduction of BT into the pay-TV sport market. And it hasn’t failed to surprise, with BT taking the majority of the Champions League rights instead of Sky. This is the biggest blow Rupert Murdoch’s dominant pay-TV provider has had since its start over twenty years ago.
BT has been operating in the UK for the past 168 years - in various forms. This once monopoly offered to pay a staggering £299 million for the rights to show huge games such as: Barcelona vs Manchester United and Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich. The Champions League games will appear on BT’s pay-TV channels BT Sport 1 and BT Sport 2 from the start of the 2015/2016 football season.
The games will accompany the matches BT already show from leagues around the world, these include: The Premier League (England), Ligue 1 (France), Serie A (Italy), Bundesliga (Germany) and Liga do Brazil (Brazil). Sky and ITV, who is Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial channel, are set to be replaced by BT. They will become the sole provider for Champions League matches on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
On top of the acquisition of Champions League rights, BT will also air Europa League action, Europe’s second tier football competition, for three years on Thursday nights. BT have already had a financial impact on Sky’s profits causing their operating profits to fall due to the higher priced Premier League rights.
For BT this is a very positive thing as they can start to try and take over as the dominant pay-TV provider for sport. In 2011 Sky and ITV paid a total of £400 million for have the rights for three years until 2014. The deal signed by BT is worth £900 million for three years worth of rights. Sky first gained the rights in 2002 and since then the views have flourished as the European competition grew in popularity.
The current contract allows Sky to broadcast seven live matches on Tuesday’s and eight on Wednesdays, ITV have one each Tuesday the competition is on and, if they are remaining in the competition, are guaranteed an English team no matter what. The loss of these matches is sure to leave a huge whole in Sky’s schedule. They will most likely have to agree a wholesale deal with BT so that Sky customers can still view Champions League football. The loss of the games is bound to have an enormous impact on Sky financially.
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