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The Champions League won’t return to free TV anytime soon

BT Sport has secured the exclusive rights to Champions League and Europa League football for three additional seasons. It already held the rights to both competitions until 2021, but this announcement means it won’t loosen its grip on European club football until 2024 at the earliest.

BT coughed up a whopping £1.2 billion for the rights (£400m per season), and the new deal commences at the start of the 2021/22 campaign. The deal that’s currently in place costs BT £394 million per year.

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“UEFA is delighted to continue its strong partnership with BT until 2024,” said UEFA’s marketing director, Guy Laurent Epstein.

“All matches will be available across the BT Sport channels and digital services and in addition UK football fans will be able to enjoy club competition highlights for free on social media each match week, as well as the finals to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and the newly formed UEFA Europa Conference League.”

Wait, what was that last bit? The Europa Conference League is basically Europa League Tier 2. Aka Champions League Tier 3. It will launch at the same time as BT Sport’s new deal, and we could hardly be more excited about it.

Last week, it was reported that Sky was planning to challenge BT Sport for the broadcast rights to the 2021-24 Champions League games. Pulses also quickened when it emerged that ITV may also have been mulling a bid, though this would likely have seen significantly less money exchange hands.

However, there’s a widespread belief that UEFA is unhappy about decreased viewing figures, something that caused minds everywhere to conjure up sepia-filtered images of Adrian Chiles. But it wasn’t meant to be. If UEFA is indeed less than ecstatic about viewing figures, that BT money clearly helps to soften the blow.

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BT Sport has held the exclusive rights to the Champions League and Europa League since 2015. If you fancy signing up to the service, it’s worth checking out the deal below.

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