Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

BT's goal is to take on Sky's football coverage

BT is waging a price war with rival BSkyB by offering free Premier League football for its broadband customers.

The telecoms giant, which is muscling into Sky's dominance of sport after winning a three-year deal to show 38 Premier League games a season, has also unveiled a broadband package for £10 per month and superfast fibre broadband for £15 per month.

BT's move into football coverage is part of a strategy to strengthen its position in the broadband market, bundling its TV together with internet and telephone services in direct competition to BSkyB. Shares in its rival were down by 4% yesterday.

It plans to wrestle pubs from Sky with a sports package which it claims could be 78% cheaper than its rival.

BT is offering pubs and clubs 12 months' subscription for the price of nine, which BT said for many independent pubs works out at £135 per month.

Hotels, golf clubs and betting shops will also be offered sport packages which BT said "massively undercut" its rival.

The group also announced a host of big names to front its coverage.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has been signed up by BT as a football expert for its new sports offer, joining Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Double Champions League winners Owen Hargreaves and Steve McManaman and former England goalkeeper David James have also been signed up as football experts to its sports channels, which will be called BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN.

Commentators will include former England striker Michael Owen and Darren Fletcher.

BT said its move means live top-flight football will be "free" to watch for consumers for the first time in 20 years.

BT hopes to appeal to the 20 million-plus UK homes which have broadband, as well as attracting new customers to its internet service.

Its channels will also show 69 live Aviva Premiership rugby games per season, plus live football from leagues in Germany, France, Italy and Brazil.

BT 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."

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Million-plus UK homes will be able to watch top-flight football 'for free'

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