Amazon are ready to continue their quest of finding a footing in the world of football broadcasting and have signed a deal to show the Champions League in the United Kingdom.
BT Sport currently have exclusive rights to Europe’s top competition in the UK – having beaten rivals Sky Sports in 2015. Their current exclusivity came at a cost of £1.2bn and runs until the end of the 2023/24 season.
However, The Athletic claim Amazon have now struck a deal as UEFA ditch their exclusivity model. They will now show a number of Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League games during the 2024-27 cycle.
BT Sport will retain the majority of the rights and be able to show more games. It is reported that the overall value of the rights has increased to €1.7 billion over three years, a rise of around 20% with Amazon providing most of the new money.
Amazon already had a contract to show Champions League games in Germany and have also broken the duopoly on Premier League broadcasting in the UK. Their current arrangement sees them show 20 live matches a season and have presented a vastly different product to their rivals, including televising an entire gameweek at the same time.
Amazon believes that showing live sports will in turn increase the amount of Prime subscribers, with a report in 2020 revealing there was a 35 per cent growth off the back of Premier League football.
The end of the current broadcasting deal also coincides with the radical changes that will be introduced, including an additional four teams entering the competition, playing eight group matches apiece.
UEFA are therefore expecting a 20 per cent increase on their last deal and are also planning to sell highlights packages to suitors, with ITV tipped to be a contender.
BT’s coverage has come under scrutiny in recent times, particularly following May’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid. The kick-off at the Stade de France was delayed by more than half-an-hour, with fans subjected to antiquated police methods outside of the stadium.
Liverpool supporters were tear-gassed by French police, with many then pushed into small areas raising the risks of a potentially fatal crush. However, those tuning into BT Sport’s live presentation had little clue of the mounting issues, with their focus remaining on the game itself.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville hit out at the fact no reporters were outside and posted on social media: “Are you surprised? I’m not. They can’t react or aren’t agile to things like this happening.”
Jake Humphrey, the anchor of BT’s broadcast responded: “Possibly one of the hardest sports events I’ve ever covered. And I’ve done some tricky ones.
“We had limited information about what was going on outside, my talkback (the umbilical cord to my production team) suddenly stopped working, the TV compound was impacted by the tear gas so our production team were barricaded in their trucks. And many of us had friends and family at the game and we had no idea if they were even safe.
“And amongst all that we were trying our best to get the tone right, under the scrutiny that seems exclusive to live football. Hopefully you wouldn’t have known too much about all that, the BT Sport production team are up there with the very best I have ever worked with.”
According to figures released in the weeks after the final, 8.7m people in the UK took in the final, with BT Sport bosses deciding to make the game free to view for all, including streaming Real’s 1-0 victory on YouTube.