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
    +9

    Comment number 213.

    @206 sky don't necessarily pick and choose all the games they get. Besides, would you prefer some competition and variety or just pay whatever sky demands? Personally I think the sky sports package is eye watering expensive as it is. I welcome BT into the fold.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 212.

    Anyone with shares in BT should sell them now.
    This is disasterous strategic decision, made by an incompetent board of directors!
    What BT needs to focus on, is delivering a much better service on its existing product portfolio, to its existing customers.
    Instead the brainless Directors spend a fortune on a headline grabbing gimmick of football matches.
    The board are egotistical idiots.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 211.

    Everyone wants to compete with sky and stop them having all the cream. So what happens? The consumer loses out. To watch all the games they now have to buy both services. In the USA the sporting body (NFL, NBA, MLB) assembles the all games package and it is then sold by carriers. This UK approach costs the consumer more and will mean SKY will outbid BT next time as Virgin complains.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 210.

    So what?

    If you have Broadband, go to first row sports and watch PL, F1, NHL, NFL etc etc etc totally free.

    Why pay?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 209.

    It's amazing how this FREE offer will still cost me more than my Sky deal where I get Unlimited Broadband and line rental for £10pm rather than the £40 odd BT want by putting me on Infinity plus the subscription 'Freeview' package with 5 HD channels. It's all marketing and headline grabbing nonsense.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 208.

    Interesting development. Sky broadband is run on BT lines so that will put the cat amongst the pigeons. My BT was so poor it would not run BT Vision so unless you have fibre broadband its a waste of time trying to stream BT. Best deal is Virgin broadband they offer sky at pretty much the same price as Sky do so you almost get your phone and broadband free

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 207.

    anything that bursts Murdoch's bubble is fine with me.....

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 206.

    I don't think this offer is all its cracked up to be. They may be getting 38 premier league games but I don't see Sky losing the bigger games. Besides that Sky also covers virtually every champions league game except one on Tuesdays. The Europa league and FA cup games in my opinion don't make up for this loss. Its still going to be a while before we see a level playing field

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 205.

    Oh my god what are they going to do now......They are giving it free so no use the rivals hecking the system and putting the info on the net, Remember ITV digital folks.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 204.

    @dude9575 No it can't currently I am not able to upgrade to any sports channels until I have infinity and they won't roll it out to our area.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 203.

    As far as I can see all this talk of competition being good for the punters is nonsense.
    If you want to watch EPL matches you need 2 subscriptions to watch the matches you want, it actually costs you more when some desirable matches are taken onto another channel you have to pay for (in this case indirectly)
    I made the mistake of paying for ESPN, I won't do the same for BT.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 202.

    164.
    Anton ... at the same time please remove 80% of the wall to wall sport which normal licence payers have to put up with. Not everyone is a chav or a sports freak, there seems to be an inordinate number of both, & doesn't include the brain dead who watch reality TV & soaps. At one time there were programmes of substance on TV now the crap transmitted appeals to the intellectually challenged

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 201.

    BT - the WORST company in the world bar none!

    Always assume they will cock it up and you will never be disappointed. Avoid them at all costs.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 200.

    I don't pretend to know the detail of how football makes its money from TV but it has been very obvious for some time that most clubs are living beyond their means in unsustainable financial regimes, largely driven by ridiculous wage bills, despite TV money. This announcement perpetuates that situation. Vive la revolution - a re-balancing is required.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 199.

    BT Vision is rubbish and expensive for what it is. Sure SKY is expensive but at least i know they have everything and it will work. For those that don't know BT vision requires you to have broadband (as it sends the programs down your phone line and not a dish) which slows yous internet down ridiculously. Added to this everything is pay per view on top of your monthly sub. I'll stick with sky!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 198.

    @194. Eddies Gonna Get Ya

    "at least it tells you you can watch Brazilian games!"

    Sadly people will always pay to watch that kind of thing.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 197.

    @189.anotherfakename
    "What is depressing is the money expended on a bunch of usually mindless yobs to kick a pointless bag of air around for the amusement of the plebs."

    Are you referring to football or the previous edition of "Question Time"?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 196.

    @172 you can't necessarily blame money revenue from tv for footballers and not mention the oil billionaires and foreign crooks running most of the large clubs. They want a player? They look for lose change in their pockets and pay no matter how much, and give him a fat contract. The tv revenue at least allows smaller clubs some level of competitiveness in a ruined sport.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 195.

    This does not represent more choice for consumers in any real sense.

    If you're not a BT broadband customer you don't get the games. This offer is subsidising an otherwise inferior, relatively expensive and poor customer support broadband offer.

    If you change to BT to get the games and then have to suffer their appalling customer support system who wins?

    BT's track record ain't good

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 194.

    @168 Errmm, Yes it is, actually. BT has taken up ESPN's SPL package, and will be showing that free. Be nice if the BBC had bothered to mention this in the article, but, hey, at least it tells you you can watch Brazilian games!

 

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