ITV and Sky score rights to European qualifiers

15 May 2013

UK commercial broadcaster ITV has acquired live rights for England’s qualifying matches for UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while pay-television broadcaster BSkyB has agreed live rights deals for the tournaments’ qualifying games featuring Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The deal marks UEFA’s first entry into one of Europe’s major broadcast markets under its new centralised rights distribution strategy. ITV has acquired live rights to all of England’s home and away qualifying matches under the four-year deal, from 2014 to 2017. The deal also includes the rights to broadcast 20 qualifying games not featuring England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland on digital-terrestrial channel ITV4. The agreement marks the first time in recent years that a single broadcaster will show all of England’s qualifying games for consecutive major tournaments. ITV has held the rights to show exclusively all England’s home games since 2008 as well as, since 2009, the team’s friendly matches both at home and away. Peter Fincham, ITV director of television, said: “Bringing viewers exclusive live coverage of each key England international match is hugely important to ITV and means football fans will be able to watch for free England’s progress both at home and abroad as they attempt to qualify for the final stages of these tournaments.”

Sky’s deal includes live rights to all qualifiers featuring Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as highlights of every England qualifier over the same four-year period. Sky, which will show up to 500 qualifying matches – including some not featuring Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland – over the duration of the deal, will also show live coverage of any England qualifiers that take place away at the other UK home nations or the Republic of Ireland. Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said: “Both the UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup are football’s most important international tournaments and this deal offers Sky Sports viewers the complete qualification story. We’ve been broadcasting international football since the beginning of Sky Sports and this deal means our viewers can enjoy watching some of the best players and nations over the next four years.”

ITV and Sky agreed their deals with the CAA Eleven agency. CAA Eleven is selling the global rights for the matches under a deal agreed by the agency last year with football’s European governing body. UEFA last month announced that public-service broadcaster consortium the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) had acquired rights for Euro 2016 and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in 30 European countries. The EBU’s agreement with the CAA Eleven agency excluded most of the biggest European football rights markets such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Nordics.