BT offers free Premier League football in BSkyB battle

Liverpool player Daniel Sturridge BT Sport will show Premier League matches free to broadband customers

BT is to offer free Premier League football coverage to its broadband customers, the telecoms company says.

The announcement is a signal of BT's intent to challenge BSkyB's dominance of the UK's sports pay-TV market.

BT won a three-year deal to show 38 Premier League games a season, beginning this year.

BT has 6.3 million broadband customers, but just 750,000 pay-TV customers, compared with Sky's 10 million subscribers.

BSkyB's shares closed more than 6% lower in London, after BT unveiled its plans.

BT's move is an attempt to establish itself as a major multi-platform provider, offering TV, internet and telephone in one package.

It will provide all of its 38 Premier League games free to broadband customers, including 18 "first pick" matches, on three channels: BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN.

'Fans the winners'

Broadband packages on BT will cost from £10 a month.

BT has spent a fortune buying the rights to enable it to launch its sports channel, and hiring big names to front it. So how will it recoup its investment if it's now going to make BT Sport free to its broadband customers?

The answer is it won't - in the short term at least - but that's not the aim.

This is all about reinforcing BT's broadband business and making its customers less likely to head elsewhere.

More and more consumers are choosing to get their phone, TV and broadband services in one package - with Sky an obvious choice for many.

The satellite broadcaster has been Britain's fastest growing broadband supplier in recent years, winning many of its new customers from BT.

Now a well-funded and familiar brand is advancing onto Sky's territory, armed with some top class sport.

Sky may be relaxed - after all it's seen the likes of ITV Digital and Setanta try and fail to do something similar.

But for consumers there's the prospect of more choice and lower prices - which looks like good news.

But customers who want to access the sports channels will also need to pay for a set top box, or pay an extra £5 per month for the basic television package.

That compares with Sky's offer of 116 Premier League matches, as part of a six-channel sports package that costs £42.50 per month for the first six months, and includes broadband internet.

BT Sport's channels will also show 69 live Aviva Premiership rugby matches per season, plus live football from leagues in Germany, France, Italy and Brazil.

Chief executive Ian Livingston said: "UK sports fans have had a rough deal for too long. Many have been priced out of the market, but we will change this by giving away BT Sport for free with our broadband.

"Sports fans are the winners today."

BSkyB dominates the pay-TV market with about 10 million customers, but lags behind BT with 4.3 million broadband customers.

BT Sport is also taking on BSkyB in pubs and clubs, with an offer of 12 months' subscription for the price of nine, and a free installation offer lasting until 1 July.

About half the premises taking up the offer will end up paying £135 a month, BT said, while packages for hotels and betting shops could undercut Sky by 75%.

Analysts say the entry into the market by BT represents a serious challenge, despite Sky's success in fighting off previous competition from the likes of ITV Digital, Setanta and ESPN.

"Compared with the others BT is in a much stronger position because it has a massive number of customer relations already," said Toby Syfret, a television market analyst at Enders Analysis.

"This is a major player matching the scale of Sky coming in - we haven't had that before."

But he also warned that BT would be limited in terms of the matches it has available.

The majority of BT's highest profile games are scheduled for Saturday lunchtimes, while Sky's games are scheduled for Sunday afternoons, when audiences are significantly higher.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    101. Pete M

    A common misconception of ADSL, the service you buy is 'up to 20mbps (this fact is not made abundantly clear to be fair). The theoretical top speed of ADSL2 is 24mbps but i think you'd have to live in the exchange for those speeds. On the plus side BT are investing heavily in Fibre To The Cabinet (and Home in some places). Infiniti is FTTC and delivers me personally 30mbps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    'its more bark than bite in my opinion and they'd do better if they offered reliable services to existing customers instead of cheap shots to try and entice new ones along.'

    Each to their own, I have had BT Infinity for 2yrs now and been the best service I have ever had. Game on BT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Well, there's the commercial world for you. Choose who you want to purchase what from...

    I left BT broadband for another provider on cost & speed grounds. As I don't watch footie, this won't entice me back. That's commerce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    All those slating Sky if you have ever compared the sports Coverage with Free to Air. When you do you will know why sports fans (Not just Football Fans) by Sky. Good Pundits who know the sports with good presenters. I for one will not be returning to the Muppets (With the Exeption Gary Anderson) on the BBC Coverage of the F1 anytime soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    87 You're right, ESPN only had 23 matches this season. Setanta had as many games but wasn't really big able to compete with Sky on other fronts. Will be interesting to see how BT fares, what the quality is like for flat rate broadband customers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    both companies suck, smash sky and renationalise bt and maybe one day someone will be able to get a decent deal on their services

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    @stinkfox BT gives access not only to its copper network, which fair enough was built ages ago with public money but has been maintained with private investment, but also to the fibre network which they built with £2.5bn of shareholders' money. Prices are published and the same for BT Retail, Sky, TalkTalk or anyone else. Virgin Media however does none of that. Get your facts right.

  • Comment number 106.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    They need to short their residential speeds first

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    .@56 Because the free to air channels coverage of football,domestic Rugby, or England overseas cricket, was non existent. Saturday afternoon sports consisted of a whole afternoon of horse racing and the football results, you had to queue up outside the local cinema at 02.00am , to watch championship boxing. That is the reason why I subscribe to Sky.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    I agree there should not be a monopoly but BT is a useless company. They dont care about the customers, have personally faced many issues with BT braodband, no bandwidth but they will provide a new connection happily with plenty of offers which cant be used.

    Has anyone tried BT customer care and got a meaningful response?

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Yes! No advert breaks, missing the goals. I'm going for B.T.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    I would rather BT spent some of it's money dragging my broadband connection out of the copper age.
    I've been paying for 20MB for years and only getting 2MB, but my bill isn't 10 times smaller.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    The high-voted comments overlook BT's £10 per month broadband deal. If the govt demand people to access services online, then this is more important that all the other stuff put together. Maybe once enough of us sign up to that deal, BT will stop trying to sell us services we don't want and often can't afford. And they're not exactly spammers either, try Virgin if you want to subsidise a spammer!

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Jake Humphrey & Rio Ferdinand!!! - I'll stick with on-line Fox Soccer subscription thanks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.


    There is a difference between what BT are going to have to what ESPN did. They have 18 first picks now obviously Sky will be trying through their picks (much like with how they/BBC divvy up F1) to minimise the amount of high-profile games that BT get there will be some big games on BT.

    Interesting the article makes no mention of the BBC losing MotoGP rights to BT?

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Jake Humphrey and Rio Ferdinand - Sorry but Free is not cheap enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Don't really give a toss about football there far too much on TV anyway. But more power to BT anything to start the destruction of Murdochs evil empire!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    If you are a BT Broadband customer with a Sky box you can get the BT Sport channels for free via your Sky Box. No extra box and free sport channels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    54 Even in Exeter (population 100k+) BT are not looking like providing the full service to all.


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