Image: BT Sport Image: BT Sport

We all know that video streaming is now a major part of how we get our fix of entertainment. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have given us a huge bank of films and TV available from any device - even their own original, and increasingly popular, programmes.

Sport, however, has been a completely different ball game. A whopping 93% of sports viewing happens live and on TV. But with more than two-thirds of all internet consumer traffic expected to come video in 2017, that could be about to come to an end.

In April, the NFL announced that some American Football fixtures would be shown live on Twitter from autumn 2016. And now, BT Sport has announced that this season's UEFA Champions League and Europa League Finals will be broadcast free on YouTube.

BT Sport secured exclusive rights to show the competitions from the start of the 2015/16 season in a three-year deal worth nearly £900 million.

Christoph Pleitgen, senior vice president of business development of video creation platform, Wochit, said: "YouTube is a perfect outlet for BT Sport to attempt to maximise its audience, while also attracting the highest paying sponsors. With video content expected to make up a huge 69% of all consumer internet traffic in 2017, BT Sport is seeking to get ahead of the curve and go to where its audience now is."

He added: "This new approach, pioneered by many American sports recently, including baseball and basketball, sits outside the traditional UK model of exclusive television broadcasting. It will drive strong growth of viewership numbers and viewer engagement. BT Sport must have been paying very close attention to this development before making today’s significant decision.”

While the decision to air the Champions League and Europa League finals on YouTube is an indicator of how sports broadcasting may look in the future, innovation may not be the entire reason behind it.

BT Sport has suffered dismal viewing figures in its debut season as the exclusive broadcaster for European football. As part of its bid to secure the broadcast rights, BT Sport aired 12 fixtures featuring English club on BT Showcase - a free-to-air channel showcasing what a full-blooded BT Sport offers. But those 12 matches attracted a dismal average 200,000 viewers across the free BT Showcase and paid BT Sport, compared with an average 792,000 SkySports and 4.96 million ITV viewers for the play-offs and group stages. And ITV still managed to attract 1.3 million viewers to a Wednesday highlights programme.

And UEFA is understood to be concerned about the weak viewing figures. Although the broadcast deal saw UEFA receive more for television rights than ever before, it is likely to be coming under increasing pressure from its sponsors - sponsors which pay to be put in front of the widest possible audience. And so far this season, BT Sport has not provided an audience anywhere near as wide as the previous combination of SkySports and ITV.

It has therefore been reported that UEFA is reconsidering its approach to the bidding process for the 2018-2021 broadcast right contract. Whether or not it will seek for a return to a combination of a free broadcaster like ITV and a paywall broadcaster like SkySports or BT Sport, or demand an dramatic improvement in BT Sport's free offering, remains to be seen.

What we do know is that this season's Champions League final, between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, and Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla, will spark a change in the way broadcasters think about their coverage.