BT and ITV in talks over Champions League sublicensing

British pubcaster ITV is reportedly in talks with BT Sport over a sub-licencing deal for the Uefa Champions League.

As reported by The Sunday Times, execs at ITV are seeking a package of games from BT, with BT successfully retaining the rights in November. It is believed that ITV and Sky launched an ultimately futile joint bid for the rights.

Should the talks end with a deal, it would be the first time that the Champions League will be broadcast on free-to-air TV in the UK since BT first acquired the rights in 2015.

It is unclear whether ITV is also seeking access to matches played in the Europa League or the Europa Conference League – the latter of which is set to make its bow in 2021/22.

Despite seeing an increase in viewership for its catch up service ITV Hub, overall viewership of the channel dropped in 2019 by 6%. This is in spite of reality show Love Island drawing in record numbers and 12.8 million viewers tuning in to see South Africa defeat England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

A prospective sub licensing deal would echo one currently being discussed across the channel between BeIN Sports and Canal+. The deal would see BeIN sublicense its Ligue 1 rights for the 2020-24 cycle, meaning Canal+ would broadcast two games each matchday.

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