Apart from the World Cup final, the Champions League final is the most anticipated and most watched event on football’s calendar. With a potential worldwide audience of up to 350 million people it is the very definition of a must watch game. Last year’s final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was a pulsating game all of the way through. Even when losing their talisman Mo Salah it still took a masterclass from Gareth Bale to send the cup back from with the Los Blancos. In the UK the decision was made by BT to stream the final for free on YouTube. This was the second year in a row that it had been possible to watch the Champions League final online free of charge.
Can you watch the Champions League final for free in 2019?
Over the last two seasons BT took the decision to stream the Champions League final online free of charge on YouTube. In addition to this they also streamed the Europa League final in the same way. The reason behind this was twofold. They firstly wanted to make sure that the viewing figures for the Champions League final were as high as possible. It had been noted in the past the UEFA were not happy with their viewing figures for their flagship game. This could mean that BT would lose the contract when it was next up and that is not something that they want. The second reason is so that BT could expose their product to a younger audience. With younger people today consuming media in a variety of different ways, most of them in contrast to the traditional method of watching on TV, BT were attempting to capitalise on this with the Champions League final.
Despite the last two years finals being streamed for free on YouTube, it is not yet know if this will be possible for the Champions League final 2019. Obviously, it will be possible to watch the Champions League final via more traditional methods, but BT have not yet announced if they will be streaming the Champions League final online via YouTube again. In the last two years they have made the announcement during the middle of May, so there is still plenty of time left for them to make it available to everyone on YouTube.
This means that for everyone who does not have access to BT Sports they will have to wait until May to find out if they will be able to watch the Champions League final highlights, or if they will have to pay that little bit extra for a subscription to BT Sports.
Is the Champions League final on TV?
The Champions League final will be shown on TV. However, there is a slight caveat to that. It will not be shown on free to air TV like ITV or the BBC. This is because BT Sports have the sole UK broadcasting rights and the only UK channel that it will be shown on is their own channel. This does mean that the potential viewing figures for the game will be down compared to if it had been on a free to air channel. This was the reason behind their thinking to broadcast the Champions League final online the previous two years and there is a good chance that they will again. However, if you do have a subscription to the BT Sports package then you are guaranteed to be able to watch the game when it is broadcast.
How much did BT pay for Champions League rights?
BT are currently in the middle of their second Champions League rights package. Their first package was agreed in 2013 and came into effect in 2015. This cost £897 million and gave BT exclusive rights to the Champions League and the Europa League. With this initial package ITV still had the rights to a highlights package that they could show late at night after the games had finished. This changed in 2017 when BT extended their deal until 2021. In order to do this they paid out an extra £303 million to take the total cost up to £1.2 billion for the rights. This was a 34% increase on their previous deal but it did also give them exclusive rights to both the Champions League games and the highlights.
Despite it not being part of their deal, BT did announce at the time that they would stream the Champions League final online via a free to air platform, which as previously mentioned they have kept up their end of the bargain for the previous two years. The continuous rise of football’s global popularity, as well as new media players coming to the table does mean that the cost for Champions League final rights could continue to increase meaning that the 2021 renegotiation could be the highest media rights package in history.