The real cost of Champions League football? BSkyB shares fall over BT deal

Broadcaster agrees exclusive deal worth £900 million to show both Uefa competitions

Shares in BSkyB were hammered today following the company's failure to win the UK rights to show Champions League and Europa League matches.

BSkyB lost out to BT, which has agreed an exclusive deal worth almost £900 million to show both Uefa competitions for three seasons from 2015/16.

It is the first time a single UK broadcaster has won the exclusive live rights for all 350 matches from the two tournaments per season. Currently Sky and ITV hold the rights to show Champions League matches.

BSkyB shares were down by 9%, equivalent to the loss of more than £1 billion in its market value. However fears over the price being paid by BT meant its own shares were 2% lower. The telecoms company recently paid £738 million for 38 live Premier League matches over three seasons.

Investec media analyst Steve Liechti said the deal was a "hugely important showcase for BT's long term intent and the competitive threat to Sky".

In terms of BSkyB, he added: "We expect increasing investor concern over the next content package auction and the next Premier League auction becomes vital."

BT has pledged to make European football "far more accessible and affordable to fans", and will show a selection of the games for free on BT Sport even to homes that have not signed up to the channels.

The finals of each tournament will be shown for free, while each British team involved in Europe will feature for free at least once each season.

BT has agreed to pay around £299 million per season for the Uefa deal, a figure Sky feels is "far in excess" of its own valuation for the rights to the European matches.

A Sky statement 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."

PA

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