Amazon close to deal over Champions League rights in UK

Amazon close to deal over Champions League rights in UK

Amazon is close to securing a groundbreaking deal to broadcast live Champions League football in the UK from 2024, with highlights returning to terrestrial TV for the first time in nearly a decade in a midweek BBC Match of Day show.

The US internet retailer and streaming giant, which already has a broadcast portfolio spanning Premier League football, tennis and rugby, is understood to be set to split the UK rights with existing holder BT Sport in a new deal with the governing body, Uefa, running from 2024 until 2027.

The BBC is understood to have secured rights to Champions League highlights for the first time, which it will reportedly broadcast in a new Wednesday night edition of Match of the Day.

BT, which has aired Champions League football since 2015 after beating the then joint holders Sky and ITV with a blockbuster bid, paid £1.2bn at the last auction for exclusive rights until 2024.

Uefa is understood to have secured an increase on the total value of the rights by £250m to £300m, thanks to bringing in more partner broadcasters, with BT understood not to have increased its financial commitment but secured more games.

The deal, which also includes Europa League and Europa Conference League games, also reflects the expansion of the Champions League to involve 36 clubs each playing eight group stage matches from 2024.

For Amazon, the rights deal is the biggest it has struck in the UK and cements its position as a major player in live sports broadcasting. Amazon began a three-year contract broadcasting Champions League games live in Germany last season.

In 2018, Amazon moved to break BT and Sky’s stranglehold on Premier League football with a deal to broadcast 20 live matches a season.

The company has proved that it is willing to spend big on rights if it believes the content can drive subscribers to its Prime membership, who are much heavier and more frequent spenders on Amazon’s sites.

In March, Amazon struck an 11-year deal, valued at $1bn (£824m) annually, to broadcast live NFL football in the US.

Last month, BT struck a £633m deal with US media company Warner Bros Discovery to create a joint venture pay-TV sport business combining BT Sport and Eurosport, home to rights including pan-European Olympics coverage.

In 2018, Amazon broke Sky and BT’s stranglehold on Premier League football by striking a groundbreaking deal to livestream exclusive coverage of 20 matches a season online.