UPC scores soccer rights

Deal for Dutch digital service inked for three years

AMSTERDAM — United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC) has picked up exlusive local paybox rights for the UEFA Champions League soccer games for three years. The pricetag for the rights deal was undisclosed.

UPC says it will broadcast the games for the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 soccer season to digital TV service subscribers over eight channels as part of what it calls a “new approach” to the broadcast of football on TV in Holland. The use of eight channels will allow Dutch viewers to watch all tourney matches live and in full and for the first time, to choose the live match of their favorite football team, and to zap between games.

UEFA CEO Gerhard Aigner said the pact with UPC was “another good deal” for UEFA fans, giving them the “widest possible choice of options” for seeing the games over the next few seasons.

UPC has some 50,000 digital subscribers. The company is in talks to extend the availability of its programming to viewers of other digital platforms.

Dutch national broadcaster NOS has the terrestrial rights to the UEFA games to air one match per match night.

UPC says it will show all eight matches per match night simultaneously, then will repeat each match one or more times between different match nights. One of the channels will be a 24-hour lead channel that will also broadcast highlights, delayed matches and a magazine program.

The use of eight channels will give football fans the chance to see every minute of the action of every match, UPC has said in a press release, adding that the acquisition of the digital TV rights fits in with UPC’s game plan of offering customers more content and more choice.

That strategy is currently being heavily promoted with advertisements across Holland pushing the message that UPC offers “more and more and more.”

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