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ITV ‘in talks with BT’ to sublicense Champions League rights

A view of the match ball prior to UEFA Champions League group E match between Liverpool FC and KRC Genk (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

UK commercial broadcaster ITV is in talks with telco BT to sublicense some of the latter’s Uefa Champions League rights for the 2021-24 cycle, according to newspaper the Sunday Times.

ITV was unsuccessful in its attempts to secure rights to the competition in the tender for the upcoming cycle, which was won by BT.

The telco agreed a deal in November worth a record £400m (€465.6m/$519.3m) per season with rights-holder Uefa and its sales agency, Team Marketing, to renew exclusive, multi-platform rights to the Champions League and Europa League from 2021-22 to 2023-24. It also acquired the new third-tier Europa Conference League as part of the deal.

ITV is understood to have bid for select Champions League live packages in the tender, including free-to-air rights to the final.

The free-to-air commercial broadcaster last held live rights to the competition during the 2012-13 to 2014-15 cycle, exclusively broadcasting the first-pick Tuesday match. Pay-television broadcaster Sky held all remaining live rights in that cycle.

ITV showed non-exclusive Champions League and Europa League highlights from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

The broadcaster was also reported to have had discussions with BT in 2014 to sublicense live rights for the 2015-18 cycle, which proved unsuccessful.

But BT may be attracted to a deal this time round to help finance its extensive outlay on the property, with the telco already considering raising the price of its sports channels.

BT would not comment on the matter when approached by SportBusiness, while ITV has yet to respond to requests for comment.