BROADCASTING: BT to base new sports channels at London’s Olympic Park

BT has chosen to make the Olympic Park broadcast centre in east London the home of its new BT Sport channels from next year.

The new Olympic Park studios will be the main headquarters and the central production hub for all the sports content that BT will offer after the telecoms giant agreed a 10-year lease to become the anchor tenant of the building, now part of iCITY.

Selected programmes will be hosted from the Olympic Park studios. In addition, some features and programming will be filmed at another iconic venue, the BT Tower.

BT Sport will be based in the north end of the former International Broadcast Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and will refit part of the building to house three TV studios, a control centre, 20 edit suites and an audience holding area.

The London Mayor’s office confirmed the deal, which is subject to approval by the London Legacy Development Corporation’s board.

BT has invested heavily on sports rights in recent months as it looks to drive up customer numbers f0r its pay TV service BT Vision.

The new channels, to be branded BT Sport, will show 38 live games a season from the Barclays Premier League, including 18 of the top clashes, for three years from August 2013.

Coverage will be fronted by former BBC Formula 1 presenter Jake Humphrey.

BT Sport will also show 69 live Aviva Premiership rugby games a season, as well as top games from Serie A, Ligue 1 and the MLS.

During the Olympics, the press centre and IBC hosted 28,000 media covering the games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.

The building’s legacy was secured when iCITY successfully bid to take over the centre following the conclusion of the Paralympic Games.

iCITY aims to transform the Press and Broadcast Centres into a world-class hub of innovation and enterprise to deliver a lasting legacy from the London 2012.

BT’s chief executive Ian Livingston said: “BT is leading the way to secure the Olympic sporting legacy for the community.

“We see this as a natural continuation of our role as official communications services partner for London 2012.

“BT Sport will be a visible and engaged partner for the community and the studio will be a reminder of the incredible sporting feats we witnessed during the Olympics and Paralympics.

“The Olympic Park will be an iconic sporting backdrop for BT Sport.

“We want to create jobs in the area and to explore sporting links with local schools as well as looking at how we can offer our production facilities to other companies.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “This is an exciting proposal from iCITY and BT to transform part of the broadcast centre into the home of a major new TV channel creating hundreds of new jobs.

“It offers the prospect of delivering our ambition and vision of a great employment legacy for Londoners from the Games and creating a new hi tech and creative hub for London in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.”

Gavin Poole, chief executive of iCITY, said: “We are delighted that BT Sport has chosen to locate at iCITY.

“BT Sport’s decision demonstrates the momentum behind iCITY and the progress we are making in fulfilling our commitment to deliver jobs, support enterprise and boost economic growth.”

Building work on the new BT studios at the Olympic Park is set to start on February 1.

BT Sport is due to be launched in the summer of 2013.


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