Amazon has secured UK broadcast rights to the Uefa Champions League in a deal worth UK£1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion).
The arrangement would see the internet giant split coverage with Uefa’s existing broadcast partner BT Sport in a new pact covering European soccer’s club competitions for the 2024 to 2027 rights cycle.
Pay-TV network BT Sport has aired the Champions League since 2015, after snatching the rights from Sky Sports and ITV in a three-year deal worth UK£299 million (US$364 million). BT Sport renewed its contract for European club soccer’s premier competition from 2021 to 2024 for US$1.2 billion.
For its new deals, which also include the Europa League and Europa Conference League, Uefa has opted to abandon exclusivity for rights from 2024/25 due to the increased number of matches in the Champions League when the tournament’s group stage rises from 32 to 36 teams.
Amazon will have the first pick of matches on a Tuesday night through to the semi-finals, with BT retaining the rest of the rights to the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.
UK public service broadcaster the BBC will also air highlights of European soccer’s top club competition for the first time, with a Wednesday night Match of the Day to round up the Champions League action.
For Amazon, securing the Champions League rights for its Prime Video streaming service is its biggest move in the UK sports market since its landmark deal in 2018 for select rounds of Premier League matches, breaking BT Sport and Sky Sports’ stranglehold on English soccer’s top flight.
Since then, Amazon has focused on tennis as it continued its move into live sports, adding coverage of the US Open and French Open Grand Slams, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and men’s ATP Tour to its UK content offering.
Outside of the UK, Amazon’s most high-profile rights acquisition to date is its deal with the National Football League (NFL), reportedly worth US$1 billion, for exclusive US rights to Thursday Night Football games. According to CNBC, the company has also joined Apple and Disney in the race for the NFL’s domestic out-of-market Sunday Ticket package.
Amazon Prime Video already broadcasts the Champions League in Germany, where it secured a deal worth around €90 million (US$94.3 million) a year back in December 2019. That deal runs from 2021 to 2024.
It is the second broadcast deal to be secured since a new partnership was established between the European Club Association (ECA) and Uefa to set up a tender process for the marketing of the rights. The first was in France, where the Canal Plus pay-TV network secured a deal worth €480 million (US$499 million) per season.
The total broadcast and media revenue from the 2024 to 2027 cycle is projected to reach US$5 billion per season, a big increase on the current US$3.6 billion Uefa currently brings in annually for its club competitions.
Discussions are ongoing between Uefa, the ECA and the European Leagues group over how that revenue will be divided up.
Amazon’s proposal to split the Champions League rights with BT Sport comes after the network’s parent company agreed to merge its sports broadcasting operations in the UK and Ireland with Warner Bros Discovery to create a joint venture. The deal is worth an initial UK£633 million (US$770 million) and includes the option for Discovery to buy BT outright.
PA Media contributed to this report.
Amazon nears UK£1.5bn deal for Champions League rights in the UK, say reports – SportsPro Media