U.K. broadcaster BT Sport sill stream the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League finals live for free on YouTube for the fourth consecutive season – with viewers on the BT Sport application available to watch the latter in HD HDR.
All four finalists are from England – the first time that both major European finals will be contested by clubs from the same country.
The Europa League final sees London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea head to Baku, Azerbaijan, while Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will clash in the Champions League final in Madrid.
Champions League final on YouTube
While this is a prestigious feat for the Premier League, it also means the prospect of bumper viewing figures for BT Sport, which has used the finals to showcase new broadcast technologies.
It first streamed the finals on YouTube in 2016 – the first season BT Sport held the rights to the competitions – and offered a 360-degree Virtual Reality (VR) feed for the Champions League final in 2017 and 2018. Finals have also been shown in 4K on BT TV.
“With both European finals being all-British affairs, we’re going to make them easier to watch for everyone in the UK than ever before as well as being the best-connected football viewing experience our customers have ever had,” said BT Consumer CEO Marc Allera.
For 2019, the finals will be free not only on YouTube but also on the BT Sport app and on television in the U.K. The HD HDR feed will only be available via the app, available on smartphone, tablet, Samsung Smart TVs, Apple and Xbox One.
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a broadcast technology that provides more realistic colours. It ensures the finest details of the brightest and darkest areas of pictures are retained. BT Sport plans to launch a 4K HDR service via its official app for £5 a month for the 2019-20 football season.
Online platforms are becoming increasingly important to both BT and UEFA. As part of its original television deal signed in 2014, BT has shown at least one match from each competition every game week.
These were not only streamed online but also on a dedicated Freeview channel called BT Sport Showcase. However, matches were not among the most attractive ties of each round, were only announced near the time of the game, and were not marketed heavily, so viewers had to find the channel buried in their TV Guide. Ratings were naturally disappointing.
BT no longer shows matches free-to-air (FTA) and instead makes highlights available on social platforms like Twitter and YouTube. The live streams of the finals have previously attracted millions of viewers to its YouTube channel.
“We admire BT’s decision to make the live stream of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League Finals available for free on multiple screens and in the best technology possible,” said Tomos Grace, Head of Sport for YouTube EMEA. “Last year’s finals broke records on YouTube as millions tuned in to watch the finals on BT Sport’s channel and we expect this year to be bigger still.”
Source: BT / YouTube / UK Media