BT’s new sports channels will be made available free of charge to BT broadband customers.
BT said its move marked the first time in the last two decades that English Premier League games will be free to watch.
BT is to air three sports channels – BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and the recently acquired ESPN. In addition to its 38 live and exclusive Premier League football matches, BT has added Moto GP, Women’s Super League football, Australian ‘A’ league soccer and action sport and lifestyle programming from Red Bull Media House to its roster or sports rights.
BT will also air FA Cup ties, the UEFA Europa League, Scottish Premier League plus WTA women’s tennis and action from the UFC.
In addition to BT’s own five million broadband customers, the telco is hoping to appeal to broadband subscribers with other ISPs to encourage them to switch. BT is offering new customers BT Infinity, its flagship fibre product, from just £15 (€18) per month or copper broadband from just £10.
BT Sport will be available via BT’s own TV service, Sky’s digital satellite platform and also online or via a new app enabling customers to enjoy the channels on the move or at home on their PCs, smartphones and tablets.
BT customers will be able to view the service via both YouView and Vision+ boxes. The service will be available over its fibre network to YouView subscribers, with the ability to view the channels in HD for an additional £3 a month, waived to subs who sign up before the start of August.
The service will be available to Vision+ customers across the UK via their aerials.
Satellite customers who take BT broadband will get BT Sport for free. Others will be able get the service from BT in high definition for £15 per month or in standard definition for £12. BT is aggressively targeting Sky’s base by encouraging customers to switch back to BT Broadband and save money.
“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,” said Ian Livingston, BT chief executive. “BT is the home of broadband so the fight for customers will now take place on our own turf. BT Sport will complement our world class fibre network. Customers don’t have to take BT Infinity to get BT Sport but we are encouraging them to move onto fibre broadband so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.”
BT is launching an advertising campaign for the service today, featuring BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey and sports stars including Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, British tennis star Heather Watson and England rugby stars Owen Farrell, Joe Launchbury and Manu Tuilagi, among others.
BT’s launch is the centre-piece of the telco’s pay TV strategy, which is designed to protect its broadband base and drive further broadband uptake via a mix of sports, free and pay channels.