BT Vision, the digital TV based subscription service offered by UK incumbent BT, has purchased the rights to show Premier League football matches in the UK in a bumper deal that, combined with BSkyB’s acquired rights, is worth £3.018 billion (US$ 4.68bn). The bold move, which enables BT to show 38 live games from the 2013-14 season saw it beat out competition from traditional pay-TV broadcast companies such as ESPN and is being viewed as a statement of intent from the UK telecoms company.
While Sky retains the rights to 116 games, the deal means that 18 of the 38 so-called ‘first-choice’ games, will be presented on BT Vision rather than on Sky’s satellite and broadband service. It is hoped this will push some customers to the BT Vision service, which delivers TV via a PVR box offered with its broadband service. BT said that when supplied via its fibre optic service, branded BT Infinity, the football would be presented with ‘new interactive features’.
Ian Livingston, BT’s chief executive, said in a statement: “We are pleased to have won these rights and to have secured around half of the best games on offer each season. We look forward to offering football fans real value and great quality using the latest technology. BT is already investing £2.5bn in fibre broadband. Securing Premier League rights fits naturally with this, as consumers increasingly want to buy their broadband and entertainment services from a single provider.”
Broadband analyst Rob Gallagher, head of Broadband & TV Research at Informa Telecoms & Media said rather than competing with Sky the deal would enable BT to outstrip its UK broadband rival TalkTalk, which is also looking to capture the triple-play market of TV, broadband and telephony from the 11 million UK homes that don’t currently subscribe to pay-TV.
“Some Talk Talk’s bundles could be remarkably similar to BT’s: its TV offer will also be based on YouView and regulation means that its superfast broadband offer is based on the same underlying fibre infrastructure that BT Group is investing £2.5billion in. By adding exclusive sports content, BT stands a better chance of enticing subscribers to its bundles, which in turn will help prevent subscribers from churning to other providers.”
Gallagher also said that the sport package could persuade some to take out a subscription to superfast broadband.
“Many consumers are finding it hard to justify the need for superfast broadband while online services that truly require such speeds have yet to emerge in any meaningful way. Any service based on the football content is unlikely to require such speeds either, but bundling it a discount with superfast broadband is at least going to give consumers a reason they can grasp.”
The service is likely to be available without signing up to BT’s broadband service though as BT told Telecoms.com that while it could not yet confirm details but that it was looking at supplying the games other platforms such as Sky and Virgin Media.