BT has promised to return televised sport to grassroots fans as it announces that five million BT broadband customers will able to watch the BT Sport channels free of charge when it launches on August 1.
This includes access to its three channels – BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN – which will all be packed with world class sport, including Barclays Premier League football and Aviva Premiership rugby, with additional costs for high-definition services.
Sky TV customers with a BT broadband package will also be watch BT Sport for free, while non-BT internet customers with Sky will have to pay £12 per month to access the channels.
At present, Virgin Media, TalkTalk TV and Freesat customers will not be able to access to BT’s new sports channels via their television sets, although households with a BT broadband package can watch the channels online.
The telecoms giant announced its bold plans to revolutionise pay-TV sport and take on the might of BSkyB at a media launch on its new broadcasting site on the Olympic Park in London.
BT’s ambition is to increase the number of people that are able to enjoy premium quality sports on British television.
Only one in five UK homes currently take a sports channel, with the company citing that high prices have resulted from there being little real competition.
By offering BT Sport for free with BT broadband, BT hopes to appeal to the vast majority of UK homes – more than 20 million – who already have broadband as well as those who haven’t taken a BT package to date.
More than five million homes already take their broadband from BT and whilst the company will be rewarding those loyal customers with this great free service, it will also be encouraging customers of other ISPs to switch supplier.
To encourage people to switch, BT is offering new customers BT Infinity, its flagship superfast fibre product, from just £15 per month or copper broadband from just £10.
BT say switching providers will be “quick and easy” as most customers will only need to make one call to BT as it will then arrange the switch on their behalf.
If customers wish to take the channels without BT broadband, they will be available in high definition for £15 per month or for £12 in standard definition but only via Sky’s digital satellite platform.
Ian Livingston, BT chief executive 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 today.
“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.”
Gavin Patterson, BT Retail chief executive added: “The launch of BT Sport is an important moment for the UK TV market.
“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.”
BT Sport will be accessible direct from BT.
It 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, tablets etc.
Customers who wish to watch BT Sport on their TVs will require a set top box.
This will be a YouView or Vision+ box for BT TV customers or a Sky box if customers take the channels via Sky’s digital satellite platform.
BT’s TV service will be delivered live over fibre broadband in more than half the country with those customers having the option of receiving the channels in HD for just £3 per month, a cost that will be waived for a year if they sign up before August 1.
BT Sport will also be available across the UK via TV aerials to customers with a Vision+ box. BT TV customers who take a basic TV package from BT will receive their set top box for free.
Customers taking BT Sport via Sky’s digital satellite platform will be able to access the three channels with just one call to BT, making it very convenient for customers who want to take sports content from both BT and Sky.
There will be no requirement for customers to take a Sky TV subscription of any kind as BT Sport will be retailed by BT.
Satellite customers who take BT broadband will get BT Sport for free, whilst those who don’t can still get the service from BT in high definition for £15 per month or in standard definition for £12.
BT will make it clear to those customers they can save substantial sums by switching their broadband back to BT.
Satellite customers who sign up before August 1, 2013, will see the £3 per month supplement for HD waived for a year.
Meanwhile, Virgin Media, TalkTalk TV and Freesat customers are, at present, left without access to BT Sport’s pack of channels as no mention of these services was made at the media launch.
No carriage agreements have been made between these three providers and BT, but there is a possibility of last-minute deals being struck before the new channels begin transmission on August 1.
BT Sport will not be available via Freesat, however Freesat users who have BT Broadband will be able to get access online via the BT Sport website.
BT has announced pricing for its new BT Sport commercial TV packages for pubs, clubs, betting shops, hotels and other commercial premises, with the company claiming that a typical pub taking BT Sport could save 78% versus the cost of Sky.
BT Sport will screen 38 live and exclusive Premier League games – including 18 ‘first pick’ matches – and up to 69 live rugby matches from the Aviva Premiership where BT will be the sole and exclusive broadcaster.
There will be live football from several other top leagues around the world including Germany, France, Italy and Brazil.
There will also be FA Cup ties, the UEFA Europa League, Scottish Premier League plus WTA women’s tennis and action from the UFC.
BT has also revealed it has added Moto GP, FA Women’s Super League football, Australian ‘A’ league soccer and action sport and lifestyle programming from Red Bull Media House.
Further BT Sport commentators and pundits were also announced to boost those already in place.
Interested customers can order BT Sport from May 10 by calling 0800 400 440
Or you can register your interest via the new BT Sport website – btsport.com.