Monday 20 November 2017

Sky Sports to launch new European football channel

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates his goal with his teammate Xabi Alonso (R) during the Copa del Rey final
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates his goal with his teammate Xabi Alonso (R) during the Copa del Rey final

Ben Rumsby

Sky Sports is launching a new channel dedicated to European football for next season - Sky Sports 5.

The broadcaster has expanded its empire of channels to seven following the swathe of new rights it has acquired in recent months.

Despite losing Champions League football to its arch-rival BT Sport from the season after next, Sky Sports will show more matches than ever in the coming seasons.

Next term, 600 of those will be European games, and will include fixtures from the Dutch Eredivisie after it signed a four-year deal to broadcast the competition.

Sky Sports 5, free to existing Sky Sports subscribers, will also be the home of qualifying matches for the European Championship, Spain’s Primera Liga and the Copa del Rey among others.

The channel will launch on Aug 12 but can be activated by viewers from Thursday and will feature a nationwide marketing campaign starring Sky Sports ambassador David Beckham.

Sky Sports’ managing director, Barney Francis, said: “Sky Sports 5 takes our unrivalled live football coverage to the next level offering more European football than ever before. There’s never been a better time to be a Sky Sports customer.”

Sky Sports 5 is only the second new channel to be launched by the broadcaster since 1999, the other being Sky Sports F1 two years ago.

This year has seen Sky Sports bounce back strongly from BT Sport’s shock £897 million capture of the exclusive rights to European club football from next summer.

The rights they have retained or acquired include the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand, PGA Tour golf, Indian Premier League cricket, and Top 14 and Super League rugby.

BT responded by wrapping up the rights to Britain’s pre-Wimbledon grass-court tennis tournaments.

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