BT Sport to show free 360 degree VR live stream of Champions League final on YouTube

BT Sport will broadcast this year’s Uefa Champions League Final in 360-degree virtual reality (VR) after announcing it will once again show the game for free on YouTube.

The broadcaster confirmed it will live stream the Champions League final and Europa League final for free on YouTube as it looks to reach a larger audience than its paying subscriber base.

For the first time both fixtures will be available in 4K UHD on YouTube and BT Sport’s linear channels and digital platforms. But it will be looking to bolster this during Real Madrid’s Champions League title defense against Juventus on 3 June by streaming in 360-degrees on YouTube and the new BT Sport VR app.

The VR streams will allow viewers to choose between a 360-degree produced programme with commentary and graphics, or select their own camera viewpoint.

The Champions League final and Manchester United’s Europa League final against Ajax on 24 June will also be available for free on BT Sport’s website and app, however United’s fixture will not have a 360-degree broadcast.

It follows on form last year’s decision to show the two fixtures for free on YouTube as it fought a decline in viewing figures following the tournament's free-to-air departure from ITV.

BT said its overall viewing figures were boosted by an additional 1.8 million and it benefited from YouTube’s willingness to hand over data on every viewer that streams the game, which helped it better formulate future marketing strategies.

“Making the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League available for free to everyone in the UK shows that BT really is serious about making sport much more accessible to the public,” said BT’s chief executive John Petter.

“These are two of the biggest club football tournaments in the world and showing them live on social media and on mobile devices makes it more readily available to a younger audience as well as available to traditional TV viewers.”

He added: “We believe that VR can offer our viewers an immersive second screen view which will enhance our coverage. We’re excited to be broadcasting what we believe to be the biggest multi-camera live 360° sporting event ever for the first time to our customers.”

YouTube’s senior director in EMEA, Stephen Nuttall said: “Our users love football, so we're seriously excited to bring BT Sport’s ground-breaking coverage of these two massive games live on YouTube, for a second year running. Fans today expect quality content on every screen and this partnership delivers just that.”

The partnership with YouTube will help BT maximise the value of its hugely expensive UCL rights agreement, which has been inflated by competition from Sky.

BT paid £897m for the exclusive rights to the tournament from the 2015/16 season until the 2017/18 season. The three-year renewal deal saw the free increase by 30% to £1.82bn.

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Tony Connelly

I cover media, marketing and sponsorship news within the sports industry. This includes breaking news as well as writing feature pieces with insights from experts in the sports marketing world.

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