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European football hits the net

Internet scores as Champions League gets guaranteed, free live online coverage

Sky Sports and ITV yesterday unveiled a joint deal to continue covering the Uefa Champions League for three years from next season. And in a significant change to the existing line up, European football’s governing body has insisted on a clause that requires live matches to be shown on the internet.

Uefa has added the requirement in a bid to generate a more vibrant marked for high-speed broadband services. Traditional TV viewing figures for last season’s group matches were disappointing, and TV over IP is seen as the next big growth area in sports broadcasting.

Details have yet to be finalized but it is expected that football fans won’t have to subscribe to the Sky Sports pay-TV service to watch the matches. The broadcaster will charge a monthly fee for those who want to use its online resource, but they won’t have to sign up for a TV account to watch the beautiful game. ITV will continue broadcasting two live games every Tuesday night and is expected to show the games online for free.

The existing Champions League deal is worth £83m a year.

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