UEFA has announced that public-service broadcaster consortium the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has acquired rights for Euro 2016 and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in 30 European countries.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino confirmed the deal at the Soccerex European Forum on Wednesday. The EBU’s agreement with the CAA Eleven agency excludes most of the biggest European football rights markets such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the Nordics. The EBU deal with CAA Eleven covers the following territories: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium (French), Belgium (Flemish), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. UEFA added that a contract has also been agreed with Ukrainian pay-television broadcaster TRK. “We have received a very enthusiastic response from broadcasters, a response that went beyond what we were expecting,” said Infantino. “We thought that they may be only interested in covering their own national team but we have seen that when Germany play, when Spain play, when France play, football fans want to watch them wherever they are.”
EBU president Jean-Paul Philippot added: “We are delighted that the EBU – on behalf of its members – is one of the first UEFA broadcast partners for this ambitious new European qualifiers competition. We are especially proud that European public service media continue to be the partner of choice for UEFA, UEFA’s national associations and their national teams, thus bringing the passion and excitement of national team football to the widest possible audience.”
Qualification games for Euro 2016 are set to be the first featured under UEFA’s ‘Week of Football’ initiative, which would see international matches played on six consecutive days. International double-headers are usually played on Fridays and Tuesdays, but tournament qualifiers will now be spread from Thursdays to Tuesdays with eight to 10 matches per day. UEFA in October formalised a tie-up with CAA Eleven, which secured a deal to distribute a new centralised package of European national team rights, in the belief that the new model would help football’s European governing body to replicate the success of the continent’s top leagues. CAA Eleven overcame competition from more experienced sports media distribution companies to land the European Qualifiers package of rights covering four years, from 2014-18, and including the qualification process for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. Infantino said the Week of Football plan would see more games on free-to-air television, describing centralisation as the “most important evolution” in European football since the inception of the Champions League in 1992.