May 14, 2013 / 12:22 PM / in 5 years

ITV buys live rights to England football qualifiers

LONDON (Reuters) - Commercial broadcaster ITV will show all England football qualifiers for the next two major tournaments in the latest deal in an increasingly competitive sports rights market.

The England team pose for a photograph before their international friendly soccer match against Brazil at Wembley stadium in London February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

The agreement covers UK broadcast rights for home and away qualifiers for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, the company said on Tuesday.

Advertising-funded ITV, which has live rights to England home games since 2008, declined to comment on how much it had paid for the rights. The Guardian put a figure of 100 million pounds ($153 million) on the agreement in an online report.

The value of sports rights has increased in Britain after telecoms company BT entered the market. BT now has a share of rights to English Premier League football and those games will be a central part of a new sports TV service it will launch in August.

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB will screen qualifiers played by Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. BSkyB has also done a wider deal to provide extensive live coverage of matches involving continental European nations.

UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, is auctioning rights for qualifying games on a central basis for the first time, rather than leaving national associations to sell them piecemeal.

UEFA believes that central selling and improved marketing of the matches will make them more valuable, pointing to the success of a similar arrangement for Champions League games involving Europe’s top clubs.

Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer

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