By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
29 October 2012
BT have confirmed they have signed ‘multi-year’ deals to show live matches from the top football divisions in Italy, France, Brazil and the USA on their new sports channel, BT Sport, which launches in 2013.
The telecoms firm made a shock entry to the Premier League rights market in the summer, buying 38 live PL games per season from 2013 to 2016 for £738m. (More on that here, and Q&A and analysis here).
BT have also bought the rights to Premiership rugby as they seek to challenge BSkyB for British sports subscribers and ‘triple play’ customers, or in other words, consumers who will buy phone, internet and TV services from the same operator.
The BT Sport channel launches next year with the Premier League matches as its premium content but the live overseas football announced today from Serie A, Ligue 1, Brasileiro and MLS will broaden the appeal of the channel – and throw into doubt the future of the ESPN sports channel in the UK. BT Sport has effectively annexed much of ESPN’s premium content.
Of the new rights, a statement from BT says: “The footage was previously shown on ESPN. BT has bought the live games to bolster its new sports channel, which will be founded upon 38 live games a season from the Barclays Premier League, 18 of which will be the best quality ‘first pick’ games featuring the top six teams.
“When BT won those rights for three years from 2013, it was the first time anyone other than Sky had won rights to show any of the ‘first pick’ games in the history of the Barclays Premier League.
“BT has the new football rights for multiple years. The Serie A rights include 380 live matches per season delivered in HD, highlights packages from each match day as well as the weekly preview show Total Italian Football and weekly review Serie A Show. The Ligue 1 rights include 380 live matches per season in HD, a weekly preview show and highlights packages from each match day.
“The Brasileiro rights include 100 live matches per season from Campeonato Paulista (Paulista) and Campeonato Brasileiro de Clubes da Série A (Brasileirão or Brazilian Serie A), weekly highlights shows from both competitions and TV Globo Soccer Magazine show “FootBrazil”. The Major League Soccer Championship rights include 99 matches per season in HD.”
It has already been announced that Jake Humphrey will anchor the Premier League football coverage.
Simon Green, the BoxNation founder and ex-Sky Sports veteran, will head up BT Sport. BT has also hired match director Grant Best from Sky.
Asked about the future viability of ESPN’s UK sports channel, a spokesman said earlier this month: “We are actively pursuing a range of potential options for our business but we do not discuss private business strategy publicly. We continue to remain focused on our business and the wide range of content and coverage we deliver to fans.”
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