Football to be shown on TV and Internet simultaneously

From 2006 top European football matches will have to be shown on the Internet at the same time as they are televised live, and by the same broadcaster, the body governing the Champions League has specified.

The condition, imposed by UEFA, applies to the rights to televise Champions League games in the UK for the three seasons between 2006 and 2009.

The soon-to-be-announced winners are expected to be BSkyB and ITV, which share Champions League games in the current deal.

The next deal is likely to see the two broadcasters share out matches again, but the new ingredient is the Internet broadcast.

It will be another significant step in the development of TV over the Internet, which is gathering pace as companies such as BT, the BBC and Channel 4 work towards distributing TV content over broadband.

The development is also significant for handing online sports rights to broadcasters, rather than the leading clubs, which make money by selling highlights packages via their own websites, but have never been given live rights by UEFA.

However, Sky looks more prepared to move online than ITV, having announced it will provide a TV-over-broadband service to its premium package subscribers later this year. ITV's focus has so far been on adding extra digital TV channels to ITV1 and ITV2.

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