British telecommunications and broadband provider BT has announced an exclusive €1.07 billion three-year deal to broadcast live Champions League and Europa League football matches from 2015.
The broadcaster concluded the deal on Saturday morning with European football's governing body UEFA. It has purchased the rights to all 350 games that will be showcased per season on BT Sport.
The operator, who is paying more than double the current deal, announced that it will screen a range of new matches for free on BT Sport, even to homes that have not signed up to the channels.
BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said that “live rights will give a major boost to BT Sport”.
“BT Sport has got off to a strong start with customers enjoying what we have to offer. We have attracted millions of customers by giving sport back to the fans, and we can assure people who want to catch all the action, that European football will be far more accessible and affordable with BT,” he said.
The three-year contract is a significant blow to BSkyB and ITV, the existing rights holders. The deal will mean that BT become the first ever company to own sole viewing rights of the European competitions in the UK.
A statement from BSkyB said it thinks BT is paying "far in excess" of its own valuation for the rights.
The agreement follows the operators’ €880 million deal in 2012 for rights to broadcast 38 English Premier League matches over the next three years.
BT Sport, which is divided into three channels – BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN – was announced in May this year.
In August, the UK-based operator revealed that one million customers had signed up to its new Sport service, three months after it first announced the channels and just 12 days after they went live.
The operator is currently present in 4 million homes due to a wholesale deal with cable operator Virgin Media.
The Champions League, which features the top Premier League football teams, is an incredibly popular tournament with the total UK audience being around 30 million viewers on average in recent seasons.