The free-to-air television rights for the Uefa Champions League have changed hands in Austria, with live coverage moving from ORF to Puls4 from the 2012/13 season onwards.
Puls4, owned by German media conglomerate ProSiebenSat.1, has secured a three-year deal that enables the channel to screen 18 Champions League games per season, including the final.
The contract also enables Puls4 to broadcast matches from the play-off round, which may involve the competition’s two Austrian Bundesliga entrants should they advance past the third qualifying round stage, and the annual Uefa Super Cup match played every August between the Champions League and Europa League winners in Monaco.
Markus Breitenecker, managing director of Puls4, said: “Taking on the Champions League was a tactical masterstroke from my management team. We are the fastest growing channel in Austria and this is a unique deal in Austrian TV history.
“We are pleased that we have managed to secure the TV rights to the most important tournament in club football until 2015. Live and exclusive coverage of the Champions League on free television in Austria will now only be on Puls4.”
The comprehensive rights package allows Puls4 to broadcast highlights programmes on both Tuesday and Wednesday matchnights and the deal extends to the channel’s website and mobile platforms.
Additionally, it is widely reported that the Austrian free-to-air rights for Uefa’s secondary club competition, the Europa League, will move in the opposite direction. Europa League matches are expected to switch from Puls4, who are in the second year of a three-season contract, to public broadcaster ORF come 2012/13.
Martin Biedermann, head of communications for ORF, told the Austrian media that the broadcaster has reached a basic agreement with Uefa for Europa League rights. He said: “It’s only a matter of regulating the details. We will probably sign a contract in the coming days.”
Reflecting on ORF’s loss of Champions League rights, Biedermann added: “This decision goes in the direction we took last year. We have a lot of sport on ORF One and it was difficult to evaluate the worth of the Champions League because in recent years we have seen a fall in advertising rates for it. Ergo, ORF offered a sum it deemed worthy but obviously Puls4 made a bid that was significantly higher.
“If we are to show international club football, we would rather show a competition where Austria is represented. The Europa League is better for us simply because it has more relevance in Austria.”
Sky Deutschland hold pay television rights to all Champions League and Europa League matches in Austria and Germany. The outcome of negotiations for Champions League television rights in Germany is expected to be announced in the near future, with another ProSiebenSat.1-owned channel in Sat.1 bidding to retain their existing free-to-air rights.
Uefa Champions League – Puls4