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Uefa weighs up partner programme for new OTT platform

Uefa, European football’s governing body, is yet to finalise sponsorship plans for its newly-launched OTT platform, Uefa.tv, which is not covered by current partner contracts, SportBusiness Sponsorship has learned.

Speaking before yesterday’s launch of Uefa.tv, Uefa marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein said: “At the moment, we haven’t gone into that with sponsors because the platform did not exist when we went into the market for our current contracts.

“The platform is meant to be multi-competition and not dedicated to our club competitions or national competitions, so we have to assess how to optimise the visibility and value for it, while respecting the rights of each partner, and making sure this is consistent with those rights and not confusing.”

The OTT platform will show live matches across Uefa’s youth, women’s football and futsal competitions and provide original, behind-the-scenes content in the match-week of its major club and national team competitions.

It will also host an archive of Uefa competitions, and in its first deal with a European league, will host a separate channel with videos from the German Bundesliga in major European markets such as the UK, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the Middle East and Africa.

Some of the content will provide additional exposure for Uefa sponsors via branding on perimeter boards and interview backdrops, but Epstein said the platform was not set up to boost the visibility of its partners, or to answer concerns that Uefa’s premium club content is predominantly on pay-TV.

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“The market landscape has changed, and I believe, personally, that TV audience is no longer the right way to account for interest and following of the Champions League,” he said.

“The digital footprint of the competition via all social networks, all streaming services, and everything that is available on the digital ecosystem, creates a lot of value for our sponsors.

“Unfortunately, today, we only account for the TV audiences, but it doesn’t reflect the reality. The traditional media value may go down because of pay-TV, but the overall value of the association in this environment and the strength of the Champions League increases year-on-year.”

“We have to look at new ways to account for the reach of the competition, and I’m not talking about Champions League only, but in general, any sports competition where reach is further than traditional TV audience measurements.”

In a wide-ranging interview with SportBusiness Sponsorship to be published next week, Epstein comments on Uefa’s recent sponsorship deals in men’s and women’s competitions, and reflects on the success of the Nations League as part of the federation’s restructuring of national team competitions.