Commercial free-to-air Irish broadcaster Virgin Media has secured rights to 166 games each season, across the next three campaigns, from European soccer’s top-tier UEFA Champions League (UCL).

The rights cover the 2024-25, 2025-26, and 2026-27 seasons, and the deal extends Virgin’s relationship with the UEFA governing body and its Team Marketing agency partner. The broadcaster also holds rights during the ongoing 2021-24 cycle.

The new deal will see Virgin Media Television cover eight live games per match week, split between Virgin Media Two and Virgin Media More, across Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Other UCL broadcasters in the current cycle – which ends on June 1 – are TNT Sports (which holds rights across the UK and Ireland) and public-service network RTE.

The tender for Irish UCL rights covering the next three seasons was launched last June.

Aine Ni Chaoindealbhain, managing director at Virgin Media Television, has said: “The UEFA Champions League is the biggest and most prestigious club competition in the world, and we are delighted to extend our partnership with UEFA to continue to bring the best of the action to Irish viewers free-to-air.

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“The new format brings more big games between the top teams, and we will have more UEFA Champions League fixtures than ever before.”

The UCL’s current format will be altered substantially for 2024-25, taking on a new single-league structure instead of being split into multiple groups from which teams qualify for the knockout stage.

The competition will expand from 32 to 36 teams and incorporate 189 matches instead of 125.

In terms of Irish involvement in the 2023-24 UCL, Scottish side Celtic – who did not make it out of the group stages – featured several Irish players during their campaign.

Aside from TNT Sports, live UK rights to UCL action during the next cycle will be held by the Amazon Prime Video streaming service, with highlights to be shown by the BBC, the public-service broadcaster.

Recent broadcast deals for the next cycle, have been unveiled in Canada (DAZN) and Turkey (TRT).