Pubs and clubs set to benefit from new Champions League format

6th March 2017

BT Sport has hailed the forthcoming format changes to the Champions League, including live matches kicking off at 6pm and 8pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as a major boost to clubs and pubs. 

BT Sport has recently secured the rights for the Champions League and the Europa League until the 2020/21 season and under format changes which will come in for the 2018/19 season, a minimum of four participating teams will be guaranteed from each of England, Spain, Germany and Italy, while live matches will kick off at both 6pm and 8pm during the Group stages of the competition.

“From a business point of view, we're absolutely delighted with the new deal,” said Bruce Cuthbert, director of commercial customers at BT Sport (pictured, right). “It was just over three years ago when we got the Champions League for the first time and now we've got the remainder of the current season and then another three seasons confirmed, so that's very exciting.

“Most things take a while to build and we're delighted with what we've achieved and to have such a long-term plan in place for that product is brilliant. There are a number of changes going forward.

“First of all, we now have four guaranteed teams from each of England, Spain, German and Italy. It means we will have arguably better fixtures in the early part of the competition.

“But the key thing for pubs and clubs, which is really exciting, is the double headers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with 6pm and 8pm kick-offs. That means we will avoid the clashes where pubs had to choose between two brilliant matches.”

He continued: “If you look back to November 2016, we had Barcelona playing Man City and Arsenal playing Ludgorets in the Group stages at the same time. Those sort of clashes will be avoided in the future and that has to be a really good chance for pubs and clubs to get people in early and keep them there longer.”

Cuthbert also pointed to the fact that under the new deal there will be no highlights packages available on terrestrial TV.

“The other thing to bear in mind is how BT Sport has extended its rights package with this new deal, meaning that the highlights packages will not be on ITV as they have been previously,” he said.

“It means that the logical place to go and watch the action is in pubs and clubs as there is no free-to-air obligation under the new deal.

“All in all, where we've ended up is with a product that has done really well for us but with some changes which, going forward, makes the Champions League coverage even more valuable for pubs and clubs.

“We're really excited by the format changes from 2018/19 as it gives us the opportunity to keep on building as a product.The feedback we've received from pubs and clubs about our European midweek games has been really exceptional and the new double-header kick offs will make that increment even better.”

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