BT has revealed that the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League will be free for BT TV customers.
BT, who allegedly paid £897m for the rights to the Champions League, will offer all 351 matches free to existing and new customers who join BT TV. BT Broadband customers have up until now had football games bundled into their internet packages, however under the new package BT mobile and broadband customers will be charged £5 a month.
BT’s free sports package will look to strengthen the company’s presence in the Pay-TV market and stake a greater claim on the 4m viewers that tuned in to The Champions League Final on June 6. The service will be shown online and through the BT Sport app, with Sky viewers to be charged extra. The company will also launch a free sports channel for non-subscribers, called BT Sport Showcase, which will broadcast 12 matches from each of the leagues.
John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, explained that BT Sport Showcase enables more people to access televised sport at affordable prices, stating that BT has ‘opened the market to millions of new customers’.
However, Sky MD Barney Francis has defended the company’s decision to continue to promote Pay TV, stating that ‘television provides vital income’ to support sport. He said: ‘The debate around sport on television is an important one but often harks back to a bygone era.
‘These days, pay TV is far from a niche product enjoyed by the few. Well over half the UK population subscribes to a pay TV service and Sky Sports is readily available in all those homes. It’s also far more affordable than some people might think.
Francis added: ‘The media landscape has changed in other ways that open up new opportunities to engage with sport. Today’s fans and tomorrow’s sports stars follow and interact with their heroes on social media. They consume sport across tablets, mobile phones, online and in video clips, on various platforms including our own.’