HiTV Secures UEFA Champions League Rights


Nigerian Pay-TV channel HiTV has won the rights to broadcast one of the world’s most lucrative football championships – the UEFA Champions League. The company, which only commenced full commercial operations late last year, has also landed the rights to the UEFA Cup and English Carling Cup competitions, while it will also now show highlights of the second tier of English football – the Coca-Cola Championship.

Multichoice, the South African Pay TV operator, which used to own the rights to UEFA Champions League, EUFA Cup and Carling Cup, lost out in the race for the Nigerian market following the success of HiTV’s bid. The rights for the four packages, which HiTV has already paid for, are for three years.

HiTV already has three-year broadcast rights to 80 per cent of English Premier League games, the world’s most watched football league, which cover the 2007-2010 seasons.

Although the financial details of the latest deals are not yet known, but from the 2009/2010 season, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup and Carling Cup, which had hitherto been the preserve of Multichoice, will now only be shown on HiTV.The deals will last till the 2011/2012 season.

According to sources in the know of the deal, the Lagos-based outfit also outbid African Independent Television (AIT), which is believed to have wanted to use the content to launch its own Pay TV platform.The latest move is coming on the heels of the stunning coup by HiTV in securing the rights to the very popular English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga from their rivals, Multichoice, operators of DSTV. HiTv, piloted by Toyin Subair, winner of ThisDay’s Young Entrepreneur Award last year, immediately crashed the subscription rates of satellite viewing.

With UEFA again tinkering with its flagship tournament for club sides, next season’s Champions League competition will comprise 146 matches (as against 125 currently) whilst the UEFA Cup competition comprises 205 matches (both totalling 351 matches) per season spread across 20 weeks of top flight European football.

The popularity of the Champions League was brought to the fore late last month when Manchester United played Chelsea in the final in Moscow and virtually the whole of Nigeria came to a stand still.

HiTV’s rights to these two competitions also cover mobile phone and Internet platforms.

This Day