UKTV, jointly owned by the BBC and Flextech, has signed a deal to screen soccer World Cup games in the biggest sports contract in its history.
Blighty’s second-biggest paybox, after BSkyB, will air more than 200 hours of World Cup coverage this summer, including live games, after sublicensing rights from the BBC and ITV, joint British TV rights-owners of the event.
A spokesman declined to put a figure on the deal, but the amount is likely substantial as the arrangement is certain to provide a big leap in viewing levels.
UKTV, which is under increased pressure because of growing competition, will cover all 64 games, with 31 games to be broadcast live, including the opening game, the final and several other high-profile matches.
The World Cup will be broadcast on male-skewed UKTV G2, one of the company’s 10 channels.
UKTV aims to provide what it describes as “a different, more fan-centered editorial proposition” than ITV and the BBC, which are sharing coverage of the event.
Channel head Steve North said: “The World Cup is the most watched TV event on the planet and is guaranteed to capture the nation’s imagination and passion throughout June and July.”