- BBC to screen England v Sweden / Republic of Ireland v Italy
- ITV to air England’s matches against France and Ukraine, and Ireland’s encounters with Croatia and Spain
- BBC secures first pick of quarter-finals, and both semi-finals exclusively
- Both broadcasters to screen live coverage of the final
The BBC and ITV have revealed their selection of live matches for next summer’s UEFA European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Both channels have secured joint free-to-air rights to screen one of the biggest sporting events in 2012, and will split coverage all 31 matches on television, as well as via online and mobile platforms.
ITV will screen 13 matches during the round-robin phase of the competition, including England’s opening group D encounter against France on June 11, and their potentially group deciding match with Ukraine on June 19.
The commercial network will also have both of the Republic of Ireland’s opening group C games, against Croatia (June 10) and defending champions Spain (June 14).
England’s second game against Sweden, and Ireland’s final group match against Italy will be live on the BBC. They will also screen the opening match of the tournament between Poland and Greece, and key clashes involving the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal.
The corporation is gambling once again on the Three Lions progressing through a tough group, after they opted to have first pick of the quarter-finals.
But whilst the BBC have sacrificed coverage of the key matches in the group stages, they will have the majority of knockout phase games, including exclusive coverage of both semi-finals.
As well covering four of the six group matches involving either England or Republic of Ireland, ITV’s coverage of the early stages of the competition will be further enhanced by screening Spain/Italy and Portugal/Netherlands, which are likely to attract large audiences.
Though as result of securing the majority of group phase matches, ITV’s second and third pick of the quarter-finals will be the only matches exclusively live on the channel in the knockout stages.
BBC One and ITV1 will both screen the European Championship final, to be held at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, on July 1.
Both channels will air daily highlights throughout the three-week tournament, with full details of their on-screen line-ups to be confirmed next spring.
The BBC has confirmed that its presenting team will be based at its new Salford home during the opening stages of the tournament, while ITV’s coverage will be based in Warsaw, Poland’s capital city.
According to the Daily Mail’s Charlie Sale, bosses from both channels flipped a coin to decide who had first pick of England’s games, before an alternate choice system kicked in to ensure a fairer distribution of the key games.
The issue has caused acrimony between the two broadcasters in the past. Match choices for the 2010 World Cup were confirmed just two months before the tournament began, as both sides were unable to reach a fair agreement on the distribution of matches.
This led to ITV lodging a complaint to the BBC Trust over the corporation’s tactics, as the commercial channel believed that the five-month long process put them at a major disadvantage when it came to selling advertising slots for their top matches.
ITV Sport’s head of production Tony Pastor confirmed via Twitter that the BBC’s decision to take first choice of matches at Euro 2012 means the commercial channel will have first choice at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
ITV will have first choice again at the next European Championships, to be held in France in 2016, while the next time the BBC has first choice will be at the World Cup finals in Russia 2018.
Representatives from both broadcasters expressed their delight in securing live coverage of next summer’s championships exclusively on free-to-air television.
Philip Bernie, BBC head of TV sport, said: “The BBC is delighted to be showing the UEFA European Football Championship, a huge football event, which, along with the London Olympics, should ensure a fantastic sporting summer for BBC viewers.
“We are very happy with the live matches on BBC One, as they give us a strong climax to the event, with both semi-finals, as well as England’s quarter-final if they progress.
“We also have some very appetising group games, including England’s second match, against Sweden, in peak time, Ireland’s final match, against Italy, and heavyweight clashes involving the Netherlands, Germany, and Portugal.”
ITV’s Controller of Sport, Niall Sloane, said: “I’m delighted that ITV has secured an outstanding selection of games through the tournament, which includes England’s opening game against France as well as a potential peak time group decider against hosts Ukraine.
“Major events such as the European Championships have huge significance for our viewers and attract some of the biggest audiences on television in 2012.
“ITV1 will also be the home of some terrific clashes between the top teams in Europe including Spain v Ireland, Spain v Italy, Portugal v Holland and Ireland v Croatia.”
Commenting on the agreement,UEFA’s marketing director of events Guy-Laurent Epstein, said: “We are delighted to continue our relationship with the BBC and ITV, our traditional broadcast partners for the UEFA European Championships.
“We look forward to working with the UK’s leading free-to-air broadcasters and are convinced that they will provide fans in the UK with an exceptional depth of coverage of the tournament across all media platforms.”
The BBC will also have extensive radio coverage of the tournament, which kicks off on Friday, June 8 2012.