LONDON – Shares in British Sky Broadcasting PLC took a battering Monday after rival BT PLC snatched the U.K. television rights to European Champions League soccer, Europe’s top club competition.
The loss of the rights, which BSkyB had shared with terrestrial broadcaster ITV PLC, represents a big blow for the satellite broadcaster as it has built its business over the past two decades largely on the back of its acquisition of sports rights.
Soccer rights, in particular, are one of the main reasons why the broadcaster has seen its subscriber base rise to around 10 million.
Investors are worried BSkyB, whose biggest shareholder is Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, will face additional financial pressures to maintain its array of sports rights and that some subscribers may switch to BT.
BSkyB shares closed 10.9 percent lower at 829 pence, meaning around $2.4 billion was wiped off the company’s value.
“With analysts and commentators describing this as a game changer, finding reasons to own BSkyB seem harder to come by today than before,” said David White, a trader at Spreadex.
This isn’t the first time that BT, the former nationalized British telecommunications company that only launched its sports television channels in August, has made a foray into BSkyB’s traditional domain.
Earlier this year, BT bought a package of rights to the English Premier League – considered the world’s most popular national soccer league – that it hopes will help it grow its broadband business. Sky, though, retains the lion’s share of those rights.