ITV has secured the broadcast rights to the first and second pick matches from the UEFA Europa League competition in a new deal with ITV Sport the broadcaster announced today.
ITV and ESPN have won the rights to broadcast the Uefa Europa League over the next three seasons from 2012/13 to 2014/15.
Niall Sloane, ITV Controller of Sport said: “There is great demand from UK viewers to watch domestic teams performing on the European stage and I’m delighted that ITV is extending its long and successful relationship with UEFA to broadcast the top pick games from throughout the competition.”
ITV will become the main broadcaster with 1st and 2nd picks showing most of their matches on ITV4 and ITV.com, although if British clubs and big games arise they will broadcast the matches on the main ITV network which is branded as ITV1 in England and Wales, STV in Scotland, UTV in Northern Ireland and CTV for the Channel Islands.
The new agreement ITV say cements the ‘long running and successful partnership with UEFA’. Europa League football has consistently attracted strong audiences to ITV4 with August’s Hearts v Tottenham Hotspur tie peaking with 1.9 million viewers.
ESPN will have at least a 3rd and 4th pick of matches in a similar deal to the current one that has ran over the past three years. Both Channels will air a highlights programme.
The new deal brings an end to Channel 5’s partnership with UEFA after this season and it is unclear why the broadcaster hasn’t renewed their ‘first pick rights’ Various rumours suggest that owner Richard Desmond has not been keen to air them due to the cost of the rights going up. That’s just one suggestion that has been mooted.
Earlier this year ITV Sport secured live UEFA Champions League football until 2015.