BT Sport has revealed that it is considering live streaming the Champions League final on YouTube in a bid to make the fixture more widely available and address criticism over low viewing figures.
The broadcaster currently holds the exclusive live rights to the Uefa Champions League after it agreed to a three year deal across the 2015-16 to 2017-18 campaigns at a cost of £897m; however, lackluster viewing figures have influenced a rethink of how to reach a wider audience.
BT Sport’s exclusive Champions League deal has effectively locked out a large proportion of audiences who can no longer watch the competition on ITV or Sky Sports. Despite its promise to broadcast 12 fixtures on its free BT Showcase channel the average viewing figures have peaked at just 200,000, a fraction of the 4.4 million average who tuned in to watch ITV’s coverage last season.
The drop off in viewers is likely to have concerned Uefa, who are understood to be revaluating how they will sell the rights at the upcoming auction later this year.
BT Sport are now moving to address the concerns and are looking at live streaming the Milan finale on YouTube, according to reports in the Daily Mail.
A BT statement read: “We said at the launch that we wanted to make the Uefa Champions League final available for everybody to watch, so any decision on where it is broadcast live in the UK will be made by BT.”
Uefa released a statement saying that it was “happy with its decision to award BT Sport exclusive Champions League and Europa League rights”.
“As would be the case with any pay-TV broadcaster, average audiences are below free-to-air channels. We have an excellent relationship with BT and are especially pleased with their high quality coverage and production.”