Fox Sports International Snags UEFA Champions League

Fox Sports International today announced that it has acquired the media rights in the United States and Caribbean to the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious annual club soccer competition, and the UEFA Super Cup.

The landmark agreement with UEFA – the governing body of soccer in Europe – begins with coverage of the UEFA Champions League Playoffs this August and will encompass the 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons in their entirety. Matches from the UEFA Champions League will air on a number of Fox-affiliated networks, including Fox Soccer Channel, FSN, FX and Fox Sports en Español, providing an unprecedented level of live and prime-time coverage for the competition in the U.S. and the Caribbean.

As the primary outlet for the UEFA Champions League, Fox Soccer Channel will deliver 110 live and delayed UEFA Champions League matches per season to its nearly 35 million subscribers. FSN – reaching up to 83 million homes nationwide through its owned and affiliated regional sports networks – will televise 16 live matches per season, while Fox Sports en Español will distribute 94 total contests (live and delayed) in Spanish to its 14 million subscribers.

The UEFA Champions League Final will air each season on FX, reaching over 95 million homes nationwide. Next season, the final will be staged on a Saturday for the first time in its history, with the match kicking off at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time on May 22, 2010 at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Fox Soccer Channel’s UEFA Champions League coverage will include one live and two premiere match telecasts per match day – including prime-time rebroadcasts of FSN and Fox Sports en Español’s live offerings – as well as live pregame and postgame shows from its Los Angeles studios. All live matches will kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the course of the season. Fox Soccer Channel will also produce a 30-minute UEFA Champions League highlight show at the conclusion of each match day.

In the interactive media space, FSC’s market-leading website, www.foxsoccer.com, will offer video highlights of all matches, while its Fox Soccer Mobile package will feature both live match action and post-match clips for users of wireless devices.

“We are delighted to bring unprecedented coverage of this prestigious competition to American soccer fans,” said David Sternberg, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Fox Sports International. “The UEFA Champions League is the ultimate club soccer competition, both in terms of its history and global popularity, and our family of networks will offer viewers in the U.S. and Caribbean more of the action than has ever been made available before.”

In a statement, UEFA said:

“UEFA is delighted to announce this new media rights deal for the UEFA Champions League in the U.S. and Caribbean with Fox Sports International. The agreement guarantees that football fans throughout the region will benefit from great access to the competition over the next three seasons. UEFA welcomes the commitment demonstrated by Fox Sports International and very much looks forward to developing a successful relationship with this renowned broadcaster during 2009-12.”

In addition to the extensive coverage provided by Fox’s platforms, Setanta Sports USA has acquired the rights to a package of 94 live and delayed UEFA Champions League contests that will see an improved lineup of matches on Setanta over the next three seasons. Fox Sports International and Setanta will share the rights to ancillary UEFA Champions League programming, including weekly preview and review shows, archive matches and magazine programs. In total, the Fox and Setanta Sports USA rights packages will encompass all 146 Champions League matches each season and the annual UEFA Super Cup held in August of each year in Monaco, with all UEFA Champions League matches also being streamed live on the Setanta Sports Broadband subscription service.

The UEFA Champions League – formerly known as the European Cup – was first staged in 1955 and features the reigning champion and other top-of-table finishers from each of Europe’s domestic competitions, historically including elite clubs such as Liverpool, FC Barcelona, Celtic FC, AC Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich. Manchester United is the current defending champion, while Real Madrid has won a record nine titles. The 2008 Champions League final was watched live by over 130 million people worldwide.

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