BBC, BSkyB kick up $490 mil soccer deal

Premiere scoops local TV rights to Champions' League

The BBC and Rupert Murdoch-backed satcaster BSkyB have pacted on a four-year, £300 million ($489 million) soccer rights deal to share international games and the Football Assn. Cup.

Meanwhile, German paybox Premiere has scooped local pay TV rights to the Champions’ League soccer tourney for an undisclosed sum.

Estimated cost of the Blighty deal, announced Thursday, is down $196 million on the current contract, which runs for three years and expires at the end of May when the season ends.

The Beeb is reportedly paying more than BSkyB for all England home games, which will be broadcast live on BBC1, plus three live FA Cup games per round, as well as first choice on replayed games.

The paybox will take highlights and delayed coverage of England matches and only one live FA Cup match per round.

Agreement also covers remaining home qualifiers for 2004 European Championships, qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup and all friendlies.

“Those big England moments are the most valuable sports rights in the country. Only state funerals can compete with those kind of ratings,” said Dominic Coles, the BBC’s director of sports rights and finance.

Premiere’s agreement with European soccer federation UEFA covers 125 matches per season, which will be shown live.

“Premiere remains Germany’s No. 1 soccer channel,” web topper Georg Kofler said.

The paybox increased viewers by 6% for the Champions’ League in the last season, reaching an average of 1.3 million fans per match day.

The deals come as the European Union’s executive arm mulls the handling of sports rights licenses: The European Commission wants to abolish the centralized sale of national broadcasting rights by the respective leagues’ federations, such as FAPL in the U.K. and the DFL in Germany.

In the commission’s view, the federations act as monopolists in their territories, and rights should be handled partly by the clubs themselves.

A model granting more rights to clubs has already been established in Spain and Italy.

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