By Associated Press
GENEVA: Streaming service Amazon will broadcast some live Champions League games in Britain for the first time when the competition expands in 2024.
Amazon said Friday it secured rights to the top pick of the Tuesday games each week from the new expanded league stage through to the semifinals — a total of 16 each season — for the three years from 2024-27.
The deal to show Tuesday games on the Prime Video channel is similar to Amazon’s current Champions League rights in Germany and Italy through the 2023-24 season. Amazon also shows some English Premier League games each December.
“Amazon has ambitious plans across the global sporting industry and we look forward to the innovative ways in which it will broadcast European club football in the U.K. market,” UEFA marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein said in a statement published by the company.
The value of Amazon’s deal was not disclosed, though the total value of UK rights is reportedly about 1.4 billion pounds ($1.7 billion).
Most live rights, including the Europa League and Europa Conference League, have been retained by BT Sport, which said it is paying 305 million pounds ($368 million) per season. Free-to-air state broadcaster BBC gets a new Champions League highlights show on Wednesdays.
UEFA has opted for a broader strategy in its most valuable market for the next period, when the Champions League will have more teams, more games and more matchday weeks — and likely a fifth Premier League team.
In 2024, the Champions League format changes to an eight-round league stage of 36 teams replacing traditional six-round groups featuring a total of 32 teams. The current group stage ends in December, whereas the new format will have games in January as well. Extra entries will go to two countries which had the best record in the previous season’s European competitions.
The knockout stage will start with a new playoff round in February ahead of the round of 16 in March.
The changes agreed by UEFA in May have created a total slate of 189 games in each Champions League season instead of the current 125 games.
A total revenue rise of about 40% across all UEFA club competitions per season was predicted this year by the European Club Association, though that figure was based on an expected 10-round league stage.
However, the reported rights increase is about 15% in the U.K.
UEFA has also prioritized its French broadcast deal and L’Equipe reported Canal+ has sealed those rights for about 480 million euros ($500 million) per season. Games could be sold in a sub-licensing deal with beIN Sports Group. Both broadcasters are screening Champions League games in the 2021-24 cycle.