Rights to UEFA’s main club football competitions, the Champions League and Europa League, are set to change hands in France and Germany from the 2021/22 season, with Altice in France and Sky in Germany losing out.
In Germany, local press reported that the subscription streaming service DAZN has been awarded most live rights to the Champions League for three seasons from 2021/22 to 2023/24. Earlier, Amazon was awarded first pick rights to Tuesday night games in the Champions League—20 live matches per season. The current Champions League rights holder is Sky, which sublicenses 110 matches a season to DAZN. The new arrangement means that, from 2021/22, all live matches in the competition will be available exclusively online in Germany.
In France, BeInSports will have the largest share of live rights to the Champions League, showing 104 of the 138 live matches from 2021/22. Canal Plus will also regain access to the UEFA competitions, showing 34 matches per season live. TF1 will air the final on free-to-air. According to local sources, the total value of the deals is €375 million ($416 million). This week, the sports agency Mediapro was awarded 266 matches in the Europa League, which it will air on its pay TV football channel, set to launch next year. Canal Plus will have rights to the first pick Thursday night match each week (a total of 16 per season).
UEFA’s licensing arm TEAM Marketing is in the process of awarding rights in the five major European markets. In November, BT renewed its agreement for rights to both leagues in the UK for a fee of £400 million ($521 million) a season. Rights in Italy and Spain are expected to be awarded next.
The award of rights to DAZN and Amazon in Germany is eye-catching, because it will be the first time a mainstream sports event will go entirely online, moving from pay TV. For DAZN, the move steps up its commitment to the German market, once of its first wave of launches in 2016. The platform is likely to be able to show more matches involving German teams.
Amazon's entry into live sports in Germany is not a major surprise, given it already has audio rights to the Bundesliga and Premier League rights in the UK. The online retailer reported its biggest ever days for sign-ups to Amazon Prime in the UK when it aired two evenings of live Premier League matches earlier this month.
For current rights holder Sky, the loss of Champions League matches is unlikely to entail a significant loss of subscribers as the event is important but by no means the most crucial part of its rights portfolio. However, it is likely to have an impact on bidding for rights to the Bundesliga for the next cycle, which runs from 2021/22 and is expected to be awarded in mid-2020. The loss of UEFA rights will make it all the more important for Sky to retain a significant share of rights and it now looks certain that both Amazon and DAZN will bid.
In France, it seems likely that Altice will bring to end its attempt to operate a sport pay TV service in France. The company has already lost rights to the Premier League and has not been able to agree a deal to sell its RMC Sport channels to other pay TV operators. The chances of Mediapro being more successful with its planned sports channel have lengthened.
BeInSports has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Canal Plus for its channels which will start in June next year. BeInSports has also licensed its package of Ligue 1 rights to Canal Plus. While Mediapro has rights to three of the seven live Ligue 1 match packages from next season, it needs to be able to agree carriage deals with French pay TV operators to recoup a €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) investment in the rights. The tie-up between Canal Plus and BeInSports will make its negotiating position weaker.