BT Sport will be free to all new and existing BT broadband customers when the new television channel launches this summer as the company attempts to use sport to win new fibre customers and prevent existing users from defecting to rivals like Sky.
By offering triple-play packages comprising phone, television and Internet services, BT hopes to make the most of the £2.5 billion it has invested on its fibre network and has called the launch “the most exciting change in the UK TV market for 20 years.”
“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,” said Ian Livingston, BT Chief Executive. “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.”
The channels will show live Premier League football, which BT has purchased at a cost of £738 million over three years, Premiership Rugby, MotoGP, Women’s tennis and a host of other footballing and sporting properties.
Customers who sign up for BT Sport will need a YouView or Vision+ box from BT, while they will also have access to a BT Sport tablet and smartphone application.
Speaking at the launch of BT Sport at the channel’s base at the Olympic International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in the Olympic Park, Gavin Patterson, head of BT Retail, said that acquiring exclusive sports rights were fundamental to its television strategy and offered a key differentiator from its competitors.
The channels will be available on Sky’s satellite platform for free to BT Broadband customers, but those who do not take their broadband from BT will have to pay £15 a month on top of what they are already paying. There are currently no plans to bring the channels to Virgin Media’s cable service.
“The launch of BT Sport is an important moment for the UK TV market,” said Patterson. “We will shake up the market which is great news for sports fans whether their passion is football, rugby or any of the other sports we will be showing. Fans will hopefully be cheering across the UK at the prospect of watching their favourite teams for free.”
More than 15 million premises in the UK have access to the BT fibre network, covering more than half of all UK homes and businesses, with up to 200,000 additional properties added every week.
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