Champions League games could return to ITV after BT Sport’s three year exclusive period is ended, according to an unnamed UEFA official.
A report in the Daily Mail quotes a ‘high-ranking’ UEFA member describing the partnership with BT as a ‘mistake,’ due to lower than expected viewing figures.
Back in February, the Telegraph reported a drop in ratings, which is perhaps unsurprising when you consider that the bulk of the coverage moved from terrestrial TV to a subscription service. But even BT Sport Showcase, the free-to-air channel that’s home to Champions League games on Freeview, hasn’t replicated the success of European games on ITV.
Related: How to get BT Sport on Freeview, How to get Premier League football for free with BT Sport LiteA BT spokesperson said that the governing body of European football is ‘very happy’ with its relationship with BT, appearing to contradict the words of the Mail’s mystery insider. The official line is: “UEFA has an excellent relationship with BT and is very happy with its ongoing coverage and excellent production of the UEFA Champions League.”
BT Sport Showcase can be found on channel 59 on the Freeview programme guide. BT has promised to show 12 Champions League games on Showcase this season, along with 14 Europa League matches, while reserving coverage of remaining games on its BT Sport Europe channel.
Tonight sees Real Madrid playing Wolfsburg for a spot in the semi-finals. Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “The UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League knockout stages highlight where the season is now heading with real silverware to be won.
“It’s great to be able to give Freeview viewers the opportunity to experience BT Sport’s exclusively live coverage of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League on BT Sport Showcase.”
BT Sport Europe is a BT TV exclusive channel. BT TV packages are available from no extra cost on top of a BT Broadband service.
Bidding for the next set of Champions League coverage rights is due to take place later this year.