LONDON: The BBC has confirmed it has secured exclusive live rights for UEFA Women’s Euro 2021.
With the tournament taking place in England, the BBC will provide extensive UK coverage of every game across television, radio and online.
The deal follows the corporation achieving record ratings for its coverage of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, with England’s 2-1 semi-final defeat to eventual winners the US attracting a peak audience of 11.7 million. It made the game the most watched TV programme of 2019 in the UK and took an audience share of 50.8 per cent. Additionally, all of England’s group matches in the competition surpassed 4 million in average viewership.
The BBC has shown every match of the 2015 Women’s World Cup and Women’s Euro 2013, as well as offering live coverage and highlights of England’s games at the 2011 World Cup. However, it was outbid by rival free-to-air (FTA) broadcaster Channel 4 for the Euro 2017 rights, where the Lionesses similarly suffered semi-final defeat.
But having wrestled the rights back for Euro 2021, the BBC has added to its growing media rights portfolio for women’s soccer for the UK as interest in the game continues to grow. In May, it renewed its rights deal through to 2025 for the Women’s FA Cup, for which it will broadcast the semi-finals and final live.
The corporation also reportedly has designs on securing future live rights for the Women’s Super Leauge (WSL), the domestic top-flight competition. Currently, pay-television broadcaster BT Sport holds the WSL rights for the 2019/20 season, but allows the BBC to show selected games on its red button service and through its digital output, including Chelsea’s opening match against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on 8th September.
According to the Times, the Football Association (FA), the national soccer body, is keen to do a new rights WSL deal from 2021, as an FTA partner would increase viewership and participation.
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, said: “After the success of the World Cup on the BBC and the record-breaking viewing figures for women’s football, we’re delighted to be the broadcaster of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 Championship.
“At the start of this summer we wanted to shift the dial on women’s football and I feel the phenomenal coverage from France has done just that. The BBC’s sport portfolio continues to go from strength to strength and we’re thrilled to add the 2021 Euros to that.”
Euro 2021 takes place from 11th July to 1st August. Wembley, England’s national soccer stadium, will host the final, with other games being staged at a number of Premier League grounds across the country, including those of Brighton, Sheffield United and Southampton.
READ MORE AT: