Market Insight

Sky buys Champions League rights in Italy and Germany from 2018

June 15, 2017  | Subscribers Only

Tim Westcott Tim Westcott Director, Research and Analysis, Programming
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Sky has secured the rights to broadcast all the Champions League games for three seasons starting in 2018 in Italy, Germany and Austria.

In Italy, the pay TV platform outbid its main competitor, Mediaset, offering an amount reportedly close to €800 million ($895 million) to obtain the TV rights for both the Champions and Europa Leagues. This is significantly more than the €700 million paid by Mediaset for the 2015-18 rights. 

Sky is expected to sub-license the most popular match each week to Rai, the public broadcaster, for a rumoured fee of around €50 million per season.

Sky earlier this week said that it had been awarded the rights to the Champions League games in Germany and Austria for the same period. Perform Media Group has sub-licensed rights for online streaming on its DAZN platform. No details of which matches DAZN will have rights for were disclosed, nor was the amount paid by Sky.

UEFA has already agreed rights deals in the UK and France for the leagues, with BT Sport renewing its agreement for the UK and Ireland and SFR displacing BeInSports and Canal Plus in France. Both contracts saw a significant uplift of 30% in the UK and 60% in France. 

Our analysis

Live football remains an important element of premium pay TV services in Europe, with the Champions League probably the most attractive competition after local leagues in the major markets. However, the dynamics in each market are somewhat different. In the UK and France, the main pay TV operators are facing competition from telcos, while in Italy Sky’s challenger Mediaset Premium is a digital terrestrial service.

Sky reported 4.8 million subscribers as of 31 March this year, ahead of Mediaset Premium’s two million. The Italian platform has a good reason for increasing its offer to regain the UEFA football rights: the number of Italian teams taking part in the Champions League will increase from three to four from the 2018/19 season, with all having direct access to the group phase. 

Mediaset, which is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Vivendi over its agreement to sell Mediaset Premium, said that it did make an increased offer for the UEFA rights, although it did not participate in the auction for Serie A rights last week. The outcome of the Champions League tender should force Mediaset Premium to focus all its energy to acquire DTT rights for Serie A rights. 

The main change in Germany and Austria is that, for the first time, no Champions League matches will be on free-to-air TV (although the final match is a listed event if a German team features). Sky, which reports 4.9 million customers, had to increase its payment for Bundesliga rights for the upcoming 2017/18 season by 80% but is unlikely to have had to make a similar increase in its payment for rights. Likewise, DAZN’s acquisition of only sublicensed online rights indicates that the UK-owned company is not prepared to spend its way into the rights market by outbidding a well-entrenched pay TV player. 

Austria Germany Italy
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