BT has snatched the exclusive rights to the Champions League and Europa League from the 2015/16 season.
The Champions League deal is a major blow to rivals Sky and ITV who currently share the rights. BT already held the rights to the Europa League for the current season.
It also offers 38 Barclays Premier League matches per season plus exclusive Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) coverage and live tennis, including the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.
BT’s new signing gives it 350 matches a season for three years in a deal worth 299 million per season. The company said it could finance the rights “without changing its current financial outlook”.
Mirroring its recent Open October initiative in which it broadcast the channels to all UK homes, BT says “a selection of these new matches” will be shown for free “even to homes that have not signed up to the channels.”
This includes the finals for both competitions and “a selection of top matches from earlier rounds.”
Gavin Patterson, BT chief executive, said today: “I am thrilled that BT Sport will be the only place where fans can enjoy all the live action from the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Both tournaments are world class and firm favourites with many.”
“The live rights will give a major boost to BT Sport and give people yet another reason to take our terrific service.”
Patterson promised fans “that European football will be far more accessible and affordable with BT.”
Last month Patterson said the company plans to be an “immovable” part of the UK’s sports broadcasting arena.
Commenting on the award of rights, Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA Events SA Marketing Director, said: “UEFA is delighted to welcome newcomer BT Sport to the family of UEFA Champions League rights holders.
“Since its launch in the summer, BT Sport has been UEFA’s partner for the UEFA Europa League and has demonstrated its ability to deliver premium sports coverage. We look forward to working with BT Sport on both competitions in the 2015-18 rights cycle.”
Commenting on the loss, a Sky spokesperson said: “We bid with a clear view of what the rights are worth to us. It seems BT chose to pay far in excess of our valuation.
“There are many ways in which we can invest in our service for customers. We take a disciplined approach and there is always a level at which we will choose to focus on something else. If we thought it was worth more, we’d have paid more.”