UK broadcasters are preparing bids ahead of a Champions League rights auction that is expected to secure a record sum for football governing board UEFA as the BBC, ITV and BSkyB go head-to-head. UEFA has confirmed that it will issue tender documents for the three seasons from July 2009 after this season’s Champions League final in May 2008.
UEFA is hopeful of boosting the current £90 million-a-year deal to nearer £150 million. UK broadcasters are already weighing up their options, with the BBC, ITV and BSkyB working on their bidding strategies. UEFA are determined to maintain the tournament’s reach and attractiveness for sponsors and thus it is thought likely that at least one terrestrial broadcaster will win a portion of the rights. BSkyB, conscious of the challenge posed by the new entrant Setanta since it broke its dominance of live Premier League coverage this season, is determined to hang on to its share of rights. Five is also likely to submit a bid.
For the first time, the current deal required all broadcasters to simultaneously show matches live on the Internet. A UEFA spokesman said it would assess the success of that experiment before deciding whether to repeat it.