BT Sport to show Champions League and Europa league finals in VR

After signing up to show Champions League and Europa League exclusively for next season, BT Sport has completed its conquest of the rights to top-level European football in the UK.

But it has one major problem. Over the last few years of showing the Champions League on a channel which uses a subscription based model, viewing figures have fallen significantly to when the same content was on Sky Sports and, crucially, the free-to-air channel ITV.

In some ways, that’s not a major issue for the broadcaster or indeed UEFA, the rightsholder. So long as enough customers pay for their subscriptions, BT makes its money, and the rightsholder makes its sale, too.

Except, it’s not quite so simple. Falling viewing figures are a worrying sign of a larger trend. If people start to turn their TVs around to watch something else, the rightsholder’s product will be less valuable.

That’s BT’s problem, too, of course. They’re more than just a sports broadcaster, but in BT Sport, they have a product whose revenue is directly linked to the popularity of sport, and in particular football. And so they need to make sure figures go up, too.

The Champions League final should make for a good numbers driver, though. As should the Europa League final, featuring Manchester United, England’s biggest football club. And perhaps that’s why BT are making a song and dance about these games, which they’ve made free-to-air for anyone to watch, not just subscribers.

To watch, find BT on your TV, online or on the BT Sport app. As they have done for the past few years, too, you can also watch live on YouTube.

But perhaps the most interesting part of BT’s lineup for this season’s big finale of European football is the addition of a VR option, available on the BT Sport VR app.

Those lucky enough to have a headset can experience all the glory and pain of a Champions League final in virtual reality for the first time, and you don’t even have to subscribe to a paying channel in order to do it. Glorious.

BT’s free-to-air screening of the Champions League final should make sure that everyone can watch with a minimum of effort fiddling around with new and unfamiliar platforms, but the fact they’ve been so good about spreading the word in good time so as people can plan ahead is welcome.

And with the game available on almost every platform imaginable, you really do have no excuse not to catch the final!

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 193 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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