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Is Champions League Football Set to Return to Terrestrial TV in England?

Remote Control Pointing at Football on TVA new TV rights deal penned by UEFA and Amazon could have the knock-on effect of seeing the competition return to terrestrial television in England for the first time since 2015.

The retail giant is understood to have won the race to become UEFA’s preferred broadcaster of Champions League games between 2024 and 2027, although it has also been reported that they will have to share the rights with current UCL partner BT Sports.

And if the deal gets signed off, it would see a mid-week Champions League highlights programme – probably a version of Match of the Day – broadcast on the BBC each Wednesday.

BT Sport originally won the rights package back in 2015, paying £400 million per season for the privilege of usurping rival Sky Sports, and five years later they had extended their deal with UEFA until 2024, with additional coverage of the Europa League and the Europa Conference League thrown in for good measure.

For more than a decade, UEFA have sold the rights to Champions League via an exclusivity model, which means that broadcasters pay more than they otherwise might for the deal on the proviso that they are the only channel to show the action in a given jurisdiction.

But the governing body has decided to end that way of working, and as of 2024 live Champions League games will be diluted across the two parties.

BT Sport will still show the larger proportion of fixtures, while the rights have increased in cost by around 20% – most of which will be swallowed by Amazon’s investment.

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Amazon have become a more pivotal player in sports broadcasting in England in recent years, securing the rights to show some Premier League games as well as top-tier tennis and rugby via their Prime Video platform.

They already exclusively show Champions League games in Germany, and they will be handed the rights in England at a time when the competition is set to expand from 32 to 36 teams, while introducing a new divisional format.

And in March, they secured an agreement with the NFL in the United States that will see broadcast live American football games at an annual cost of some £820 million.

The retailer considers live sports streaming to be something of a worthwhile ‘loss leader’, and they claim that subscriptions to their Prime service have seen record numbers of sign-ups since they started showing Premier League games via their platform.

And they have also begun working on a number of documentary shows, with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage taken at the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and now Arsenal.

Traditional broadcasters are likely to face renewed pressure from other media outlets as the bidding war for the best sports rights continues. Facebook, or Meta as they are now known, are thought to be interested in muscling in, while Apple have already begun making their move in the US by securing the rights to Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball.