BT loses exclusive rights to Champions League

·2 min read
BT Sport Amazon Prime Video Champions League rights football Uefa - Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
BT Sport Amazon Prime Video Champions League rights football Uefa - Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

BT Sport has lost its stranglehold on Champions League football in Britain after almost a decade, ceding a handful of matches to Amazon as regulators scrutinise its merger with Eurosport.

Amazon has won the rights to show one game a week on its Prime Video service from 2024, UEFA is expected to announce on Friday morning.

BT Sport, which is due to merge with Eurosport later this year, will retain the vast majority of games across the Champions League, Europa League and the third-tier Conference League.

It has enjoyed exclusive rights to UEFA club competitions since outbidding Sky in 2013 and retaining the majority of the rights will be seen as a welcome boost ahead of the merger with Eurosport.

Amazon’s intervention may also ease regulatory pressure on the deal, which the Competition and Markets Authority is investigating.

The US giant’s one game per week across Europe’s premier competition would mean it showing close to 20 games to Prime members, making it a regular fixture in football broadcasting.

It currently has a Premier League deal under which it broadcasts every fixture on two separate matchweeks in mid-October and on Boxing Day.

Thierry Henry working for Amazon Prime - REUTERS/Phil Noble
Thierry Henry working for Amazon Prime - REUTERS/Phil Noble

BT Sport’s bill is understood to have fallen by around 10pc despite the broadcaster showing more games as the competitions expand to 550 games a year. The Champions League is due to grow from 32 to 36 teams in 2024 under a new format.

Spending on football rights has eased after years of spiralling costs. The 2018 auction for Premier League rights brought in less than the prior round three years earlier and last year the Premier League extended its current deal with Sky, BT and Amazon instead of soliciting a new round of bids.

Both Sky and the streaming upstart Dazn, owned by the billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik, are understood to have taken part in the bidding.

BT announced in May that it planned to merge its sports channels with Eurosport, owned by America’s Warner Bros Discovery. The telecoms group has been seeking to offload its sports business, which it set up a decade ago to defend its broadband business from Sky.

The CMA is due to decide whether it will launch a "phase 2" in depth investigation into the merger by the end of July.

BT and Amazon did not comment.

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