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BT to challenge Sky by screening Premiership football


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BT to challenge Sky by screening Premiership football


Last updated at 15:51pm on 4th December 2006

premiershipPA_228x174.jpgBT will show 46 matches a season, smashing Sky’s 14-year monopoly.




BT took on Sky today with a pledge to broadcast live peak-time Premiership games.

The telecoms giant said it will show 46 such matches a season, smashing Sky’s 14-year monopoly. It is the centrepiece of BT Vision, a new "down the phone line" pay TV service.

This will offer BT broadband customers access to 40 free TV channels as well as films, music videos, pop concerts and classic TV on a pay-per-view or subscription basis through a set-top box.

However, it is the football package that is sending shock waves through the broadcasting industry.

BT had already announced that it had bought the rights to 242 "near live" matches a season. These can be shown in full from 9pm on Saturdays throughout the season and will paid for "on demand."

Today’s deal means that from 2007, BT will be competing head on for Britain’s army of football viewers, the bedrock of Sky’s commercial success.

BT will show a package of games won by Irish broadcaster Setanta when broadcast rights to the 2007 to 2010 seasons were auctioned by the Premier League in the spring.

The 46 live games shown by BT will be mainly the Saturday 5.15pm and Monday 8pm kickoffs. BT is not yet revealing the subscription cost of its new sports channel, BT Vision Sports, but said it would be "very competitive" compared with Sky’s monthly prices which range from £34 to £43.50.

The deals for the live and near live games mean BT will be showing 288 Premiership matches in full, three quarters of all games a season.

BT Vision will be available to its three million broadband customers for a set-up cost of £90 but with no ongoing subscription, unlike Sky, cable company NTL or phone line based system Homechoice.

BT Total Broadband costs from £9.99 a month. There is a range of payment options with films on demand priced from £1.99 to £2.99, music videos for 29p, TV programmes for 79p to 99p and pop concerts for £2.99.

Dan Marks, chief executive of BT Vision said the service was aimed at the 47 million TV sets not yet tied into a 12-month Sky or cable subscription. He added: "Those sets are an enormous market made up of TV customers, lots of whom are still analogue customers, who are absolutely resistant to paying a high-level subscription cost."

The BT set-top box allows viewers to pause or rewind live TV and store up to 80 hours of recorded content. There will also be a replay service for viewers who missed programmes the first time round.

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