Unprecedented worldwide audience for Euro 2008

MUMBAI: Uefa Euro 2008 will have unprecedented television coverage around the world after Uefa announced it had agreed the sale of broadcast rights to key territories outside of Europe, including the United States and Asia.

"We will have coverage of the European Championship which we have never had before," said Uefa chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson as he announced the deal yesterday.

As already reported, ESPN Star Sports has won exclusive broadcast and internet rights for the Indian subcontinent for the tournament, the most prestigious in the football calendar after the World Cup.

Explaining Uefa's strategy, Olsson said that after putting the broadcast rights to tender, the European governing body had decided to enter into direct negotiations with broadcasters in certain strategic territories in light of the quality of offers received. "We invited in August to tender for the rights for the European Championship outside Europe and we got some very positive proposals from some individual markets," said Olsson. "We decided to make direct contracts in certain territories - the United States, India, the Middle East, North Africa and Hong Kong."

The territories covered by the sale and the broadcasters involved are as follows:

ESPN has been granted the rights for North America, including pay rights in Latin America. The deal guarantees extensive coverage of Euro 2008 on the ESPN network including two games on ABC.

ESS has been appointed for the Indian subcontinent, including sub-licensing to terrestrial networks. The structure of the agreement provides a unique platform for the promotion of Euro 2008 in a region encompassing a global population of up to 1.3 billion people.

Al Jazeera was granted the rights for the Middle East and North Africa. The agreement will ensure a wide coverage of the competition in this region, where most of the 350 million people are huge football fans and that has close links with European football.

PCCW has been selected in Hong Kong. PCCW's NOW TV is a cutting-edge broadcaster that runs the largest IPTV operation in the world. This agreement will put Uefa and Euro 2008 at the forefront of technology convergence with a fully integrated distribution on IPTV and mobile.

To complement this network of broadcasters, Uefa has appointed SportFive to represent the media rights to Euro 2008 in all the remaining markets outside Europe. This is a natural extension of the current agency agreement between Uefa and SportFive for the European territories, and will ensure a consistent distribution of the broadcast rights worldwide

Philippe Le Floc'h, director of marketing and media rights at Uefa, said: "We are delighted by the outcome of the process and are convinced that these new partnerships will lead to the most comprehensive and wide-reaching promotional platform ever for Uefa European Football Championship in territories ex-Europe. We are looking forward to developing a direct relationship with the broadcasters and to further deepen the collaboration with Sportfive."

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