Uefa launches OTT platform with Bundesliga an early adopter
By Simon Ward
German soccer’s top-tier Bundesliga is the first national league to have signed up to provide content on a new over-the-top service being rolled out by Uefa that will also offer coverage of selected pan-European competitions.
The free-to-view platform, known as UEFA.tv, was officially launched by the European game's governing body today, and, under an agreement with the DFL, the German football league, there is a dedicated channel with videos from the Bundesliga and European competitions.
While there will not be any live games, the Bundesliga content will include Monday highlights of weekend matches and shows such as ‘Bundesliga Special’ tailored for international fans. There will also be an archive of classic Bundesliga games and memorable Uefa Champions League matches involving German teams.
The German soccer content is available in major European markets such as the UK, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey, plus the Middle East and Africa, from launch. The 2019-20 Bundesliga season kicks off on 16 August.
Fans must register to access the free-to-view content on UEFA.tv, which is set to include live matches from Uefa youth, women’s and futsal competitions that do not enjoy widespread coverage at present, plus delayed games, highlights, archive footage and magazine programmes.
The initial offering includes highlights of matches from this month's Uefa Nations League finals held in Portugal, clips from the 2018-19 Champions League season and a dedicated women's soccer section.
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin had announced in February that it would be launching an OTT service this year as part of efforts to make its competitions more accessible.
The new product is seen as complementary to the live coverage of Uefa tournaments already available through television partners across Europe, and Uefa is encouraging its 55 member national associations to provide content to increase their global reach and visibility.
Given the existing (and often lucrative) rights deals in place for the Champions League, Europa League and the 2020 European Championships, there is unlikely to be live coverage of these competitions on the platform, but a new third-tier clubs tournament Uefa is launching in 2021-22 could well feature.
Ceferin said on Thursday: “The digital landscape is evolving and we need to be in a position where we can anticipate and respond to these changes. Uefa is an innovative organisation and by introducing this platform, we will be making football and our competitions more accessible to supporters around the world. Our partnership with the Bundesliga is yet another example of the unity of European football and clearly demonstrates our desire to address future opportunities together for the promotion of our sport.”
DFL chief executive Christian Seifert added: “Media use is changing constantly. Uefa’s new streaming service is a very timely step to reach football fans around the world, especially younger target groups. The DFL has consistently backed and initiated technological and media innovations ever since it was founded. “We are therefore delighted to be the first national league partner in this project, which will allow us to get even more people around the world excited about the Bundesliga in the future.”
Uefa and its broadcast partners have taken note of the moves into sport by digital platforms such as Amazon and Netflix, and, while still emphasising the importance of live content, are looking at ways of diversifying their offering.
Uefa is not alone among European soccer bodies in going down the OTT route, with Spanish soccer's LaLiga already operating LaLigaSports, a platform that provides coverage of multiple sports in the country.
Elsewhere, it emerged this year that England's Premier League is considering launching a streaming service for the international market that could eventually bypass the pay-TV broadcasters that have been its traditional partners in delivering live games worldwide.