BT, Murdoch papers win UK rights to Champions League clips

LONDON Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:55pm EST

LONDON Nov 22 (Reuters) - BT and Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers will both be able to show short online clips of Champions League soccer action from 2015, the companies said on Friday.

Commercial broadcaster ITV has bought the rights to show more extensive match highlights, providing some consolation for losing its contract to show live matches.

The three-year agreements cover both the Champions League and the less prestigious Europa League, mainstays of the broadcast schedules for much of the year.

BT, a newcomer to sports broadcasting in Britain, outbid BSkyB and ITV to snatch the full live rights to Champions League matches in a 900 million pound ($1.46 billion) deal announced two weeks ago.

These new contracts are the first time that UEFA, European soccer's governing body, has sold the rights to brief video clips separately, illustrating growing online demand for the format. The clips can amount to up to three minutes out of the 90 minutes of a game.

Rights had previously been sold only as full live coverage, the most expensive option, or extended match highlights.

BT said it would give soccer fans a chance to catch up on match action via mobile, laptop and PC and it builds on the company's aggressive foray into the sports rights market.

News UK, part of Murdoch's News Corp, is aiming to use the chance to see soccer action to help drive subscriptions to its Sun, Times and Sunday Times newspapers which are now behind a paywall.

News UK has been showing similar clips from English Premier League matches since August.

BT has emerged as a strong challenger to BSkyB's long dominance of the British sports rights sector. News Corp is a major shareholder in BSkyB.

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