EXCLUSIVE: Sony retains Uefa club competitions in Indian subcontinent

(Christian Liewig - Corbis/Getty Images)
(Christian Liewig - Corbis/Getty Images)

Sony Pictures Networks has shored up its football portfolio with a renewal of Uefa club competition rights in the Indian subcontinent from 2024-25 to 2026-27, SportBusiness understands.

The media group, which operates a number of pay-television sports channels and the SonyLIV OTT platform, currently holds exclusive rights from 2021-22 to 2023-24.

The deal was agreed by Team Marketing, Uefa’s exclusive sales agent for its men’s club competition rights.

Most matches at the ‘business end’ of the season for Uefa club competitions begin at 12.30am in India, though the Champions League in particular attracts a core fan following for live matches and is therefore a driver of subscriptions.

Sources told SportBusiness that Sony faced competition from media group Viacom18, which showed the 2022 Fifa World Cup and currently holds rights in the Indian subcontinent to Spain’s LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1.

Disney Star – which is also understood to have held discussions with Team over the Uefa club competition rights – shows the English Premier League in a deal from 2022-23 to 2024-25.

The renewal extends Sony’s hold on Uefa rights in the Indian subcontinent.

In April last year, Sony secured exclusive rights to Uefa Euro 2024 and Euro 2028, as well as the Uefa Nations League and all European Qualifiers and friendly matches from 2022-23 to 2027-28. Along with India, the rights cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Sri Lanka.

Sony also holds rights in the region to the German Bundesliga from 2023-24 to 2025-26.

Meanwhile, Sony’s long-awaited merger with media group Zee Entertainment is yet to be completed.

The stumbling block for the merger  – now over two years in the making – relates to Zee’s current chief executive, Punit Goenka.

The terms of the merger stipulated that Goenka would lead the merged company. However, last year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India stated that Goenka should not hold a senior leadership position at any listed company due to alleged siphoning of company funds. Although a tribunal subsequently removed this restriction, it is understood that Sony does not want Goenka to lead the merged company.