It hailed its surprise capture of the Champions League as “the real game-changer” but as BT Sport prepares to broadcast the last 16 of the competition,Inside Sport can expose the shocking viewing figures from the first season of its £897 million deal.
UK television ratings for the Champions League have, with the play-off round and group stages attracting a fraction of the audience – including those games made available free-to-air. While a significant drop-off was inevitable, the scale of it has provoked a Uefa rethink about how the competition rights will be sold at the next auction this year.
A key element of BT’s triumphant bid for the Champions League and Europa League 2½ years ago was its pledge to show some matches – at least 12 in the former competition – free-to-air to reach the widest possible audience. But its BT Showcase channel has proven a complete flop, attracting an average peak audience of less than 200,000 for its Champions League coverage, compared to the average peak of 4.4 million who watched the play‑off round and group stages on ITV last year.