This year´s season of the UEFA Champions League is in full swing as the group stage draws to a close. The broadcasting and streaming rights for the Champions League have traditionally caused bidding wars among media actors as it attracts a vast interest in viewing. UEFA is currently in the middle of a new round of rights auctions for the 2021-2024 cycle, but prices seem to have staggered.
Being one of the most popular sports tournaments worldwide, Champions League also generates a high interest in viewing. Last year, the all-British finale between Liverpool and Tottenham attracted 1 465 000 viewers in Sweden according to Dagens Media – an increase of 136 000 viewers compared to the finale in 2017. In Norway, 685 000 viewers saw the finale on TV2, according to Kampanje. That figure represents an all-time-high for viewing of the final in Norway.
The vast popularity of this tournament also implies that the broadcast and streaming rights are highly attractive. NENT (formerly MTG) has been the rights holder in Sweden, Denmark and Norge since 1992. In Finland, Bonnier/TV4 Media currently holds the rights.
The most lucrative market for the Champions League rights is the UK, where the 2018-2021 media rights contract reached a value of £394 million per season. Last week, it was announced that the current rights holder BT will retain the rights for three additional seasons in a deal worth £1.2 billion. The deal between UEFA and BT includes rights to all 420 games of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and the new UEFA Europa Conference League for three seasons, across both BT Sports channels and digital services.
As such, UEFA managed to preserve the value of the Champions League rights in the UK, contrary to Premier League – where revenue from broadcast media rights dropped by 8% this season. Thus, UEFA has expressed concern that traditional broadcasters are no longer willing to invest in premium sports in some markets. Hence, the organization is considering streaming the games directly via its own, recently launched service UEFA TV. This poses the question – have prices of sports media rights reached a ceiling following the continuous increases during the last years?
Maybe not, as follows by evidence from other markets. Last week in France, the rights for Champions League were sold to Canal Plus and beIN Sports for €375 million per season, a substantial increase compared to the €315 million payed by the rights holder in the current cycle.
Mediavision follows the Nordic sports rights market closely, also tracking consumer interest and willingness to pay for sports rights on an ongoing basis.
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