Premiere, Germany’s only pay-television channel, said today it had acquired exclusive broadcasting rights - for both free-to-air and pay TV - for matches in the UEFA Champions League over the next three years. Financial details were not disclosed, but industry sources estimated Premiere was paying around 200 million euros (US$244 million) for all the live rights for UEFA Champions League matches for the 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons.
Premiere, currently only active in pay-TV, said it had guaranteed to UEFA that it would broadcast 13 games each season “live on a free-to-air channel to be owned or controlled by Premiere”. Premiere has previously signalled its desire to move into free TV, but not provided any details so far. If it failed to fulfil that particular clause of the contract, UEFA would reserve the right to re-sell the broadcasting rights to another channel.
So far, Premiere has shared the rights to the Champions League with SAT1, the free-to-air broadcaster owned by private television group ProSiebenSAT1. A spokeswoman for SAT1 said it was a “shame” that Premiere had secured the exclusive rights, “but we’re not dependent on footfall for our viewing audience.”
Nevertheless, the deal was bad news for the consumer, spokeswoman Kristina Fassler said. Elsewhere in Europe, Champions League matches are broadcast on both pay and free-TV. Premiere currently has some 3.3 million subscribers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It went public earlier this year, promising to increase that number to seven million by 2011-2014 on its soccer coverage.