British Telco BT Pays $1.45 Billion for European Soccer Rights

British telco BT’s pay-TV sports service, BT Sport, has secured the exclusive U.K. rights to soccer matches from UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League until the end of the 2020/21 season. The deal with UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, is worth around £394 million ($483 million) a year, and extends the existing pact with BT by a further three seasons for a total £1.18 billion ($1.45 billion).

The deal includes exclusive rights to all live games, highlights and in-match clips of both competitions. The UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top club competition, is set to expand from 2018/19, with a minimum of four teams taking part from each of England, Spain, Germany and Italy, resulting in more games between the top European teams.

BT has promised to enhance its social-media coverage to enlarge its audience by making clips, weekly highlights, UEFA’s magazine show, and both finals available for free on social media. BT streamed both finals last year on YouTube for the first time, taking the number of people who watched BT’s live coverage of the finals to more than 12 million.

Guy Laurent Epstein, marketing director of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, said: “BT Sport has proved to be an innovative broadcast partner, pushing the boundaries and covering the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in new ways. BT has delivered strong audiences in the U.K. and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media, which will engage a growing fanbase that consumes sport in different ways.”

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