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 233.

    A big reason that the cost of viewing footy matches is high is that Sky/... can enter into exclusive deals - so that a particular match can only be broadcast/viewed via them.
    Exclusive deals should be banned. By law all matches should be open to 2 broadcasters, if the second one will only pay peanuts the club must accept it.
    This would introduce true competition and bring prices down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Sounds like a great deal to me! About time Sky were hit with a real challenge!

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    @192 BT Sport is available on Sky Digital so there is choice. Sky is overpriced gone are the Sky Family Pack at £15.00. At least with that I got less channels with some good stuff. Now on sky is all repeats, My Netflix US offers better content for £5.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    I can remember 15 yrs ago, 10 yrs ago and even 5 yrs ago, the CEO of BT stating that they were a network provider, not a content provider. And, it is far cheaper to buy content in.
    What has changed?
    Has Leveson suddenly made everybody brave?

    It's a big change from not being allowed anywhere near broadcast TV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Not good news. Matches shared up even more means you either have to subscribe to even more channels or find the match you want to see is on the one you don't have

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Now let's see if Virgin can get in on the act and give even more competition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Premiership football for the cost of upgrading to "unlimited" broadband package, for most people.

    It seems like an unbelievably good deal for football fans who already have an unlimited fibre product.

    Finally we have some cut throat competition for TV sports; how will Sky respond?

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Also i should mention that when i signed up for the BT Package phone,internet,TV, I Was told my bill would be £48 a month,this was just over 2 years ago, my bill for this month is £118 ! don't believe the figures!,is the advice i would give,BT Demand 3 months of everything up front !

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Glad I'm not a BT customer! I'd be annoyed if I was paying money to BT so they could show football to fans for free!

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    221. Global Yawning BT are enabling multicast, such that there will be a single stream to either the exchange or the FTTx cabinet, so no slowdown, unless 200 people are watching different streams.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    BT Vision has recently gone back over, both in programme choice & service provided.IF BT Sport is to succeed they need to get their whole house in order first

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    It would be great if this could include championship matches as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.


    Yeah nice one. And install a load of spy/malware onto you computer at the same time.

    Not to mention the god awful quality when more than 20 people are trying to watch the stream at the same time..

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Why are some people moaning about Sky they are only selling what people are prepared to pay for. Nothing is really free in the end it has to be paid for somehow even by BT customers. Further don't think that a mega corporation like BT is all charity it will want to make money from you. For free you will probably have a broom cupboard studio with Adrian Chiles presenting and duff quality picture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    I actually think this is a good thing - not that I am a fan of soccer. But this could force BT to upgrade a lot of their far outdated infrastructure, especially in rural areas. Most ISPs are piggybacking off of BT infrastructure already and if you live in an urban environment you may be lucky to be able to choose from several ISP. If you live in a rural area BT is sometimes all you have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    This is great news for all Sports fans who have had to suffer the near BskyB monopoly, however living in South Cumbria, as with all things broadband we are excluded due to using 'wet string' not fibre. Come on BT GET ROLL OUT GOING !

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    At last REAL competition in the Pay-TV market. BT have the financial muscle to really take the fight to Sky, who up until now have operated under a virtual sports monopoly, pricing all but the rich out of the best sports coverage. Any BT/Sky price war means Sky will have less to pay for sports, so some sports will get less funding. Sports TV watching millions will be the overwhelming winners!

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    I worry about internet users generally - there's only one 'pipe' out of my town from the phone exchange (and a 'thin one at that, I guess), and already in the evenings response times deteriorate once a lot of users are downloading. If masses of people start to stream BT's football games, the internet service for EVERYONE in the town will be almost useless, I fear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    So I just checked BT’s website. £10 broadband is limited to 10gb’s a mth, so useless. Unlimited is £16, + line rental @ £15.45, with 'free' wkend calls (+ £2.70 mth for caller display - yikes!), so min cost is £31.45 a month + a £30 activation fee, a min 18mth contract (just like mobile contracts!)

    BT as bad as $ky.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    BT must be mad, the EPL is about as exiting as watching the Town Hall empty at 4pm.


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