Football fans will be able to watch the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals live on YouTube after BT announced a new tie-up with the world’s largest video streaming site.
The broadcaster has exclusive UK rights to both contests which had previously been split between ITV and Sky.
As part of its deal for the competitions BT agreed to make a number of games, including both finals, available free to air and last summer launched a new Freeview channel on which it shows the matches.
Relatively low picture quality and the channel’s unavailability on Virgin Media and Sky is believed to be responsible for the low viewing figures achieved by some games. A number of media outlets have even claimed that UEFA bosses were unhappy with the competition’s reduced visibility.
However John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, today denied those suggestions and insisted that “both BT and UEFA are delighted with what we have achieved in our first year as the broadcaster of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.”
BT’s partnership with YouTube will mark the first time either competition has been available via the platform and will potentially allow millions more football fans to enjoy next week’s Liverpool clash with Sevilla next week and the UEFA Champions League Final between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid on May. 28th.
In addition, Sky and Virgin Media customers will also be able to watch the matches for free by tuning to channel 548 (Virgin) and 414 (Sky).
BT Sport subscribers will enjoy HD coverage as well as the broadcaster’s full red button and BT Sport App experience.
Announcing the expanded availability, John Petter said: “We’ve always said we wanted to give top quality sport back to the people and making the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals free to everyone in the UK does this in a big way.
“We’re also bringing BT Sport to a new generation of younger sports fans who view their entertainment online, through social media and on their mobile devices.
“We plan to make these finals the most social sports broadcast ever, with lots of exciting content in the build-up and on the night across YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine”.
Stephen Nuttall, YouTube’s Senior Director in EMEA commented: “At YouTube, we love football and we’re thrilled to give UK supporters more ways to watch BT Sport’s fantastic live coverage of these two massive games.
“Fans today expect quality content on every screen and this partnership enables just that. Football is YouTube’s biggest sport; we’re host to over 300 football clubs, 37 leagues and channels from BT Sport to UEFA.”
BT has also announced that its recently acquired mobile division, EE, will introduce a new BT Sport offer for its 4G customers in time for the start of the next football season. Full details and pricing will be revealed this summer.
The news comes just a day after the firm announced it would soon start selling BT Sport direct to customers of rival pay-TV operator TalkTalk.