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BT Sport wins rights to show 350 UEFA matches live
Sunday 10 November 2013 11:16:32 by Andrew Ferguson

In the day since BT announced that BT Sport was to be the exclusive home to live coverage of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for three seasons starting in 2015 there has been a very mixed reaction from people.

For those for whom a football match at prime time on a free to air channel is an annoyance there may be some relief mixed with astonishment at how much the rights cost, for those who are BT customers already and avid football fans they may be feeling pleased and for other football fans the question will be what will the cost be in two years to add these matches to monthly subscriptions.

BT Sport in winning the rights to these 350 EUFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League outbid ITV and BSkyB, and given the price tag of €1,075,981,484 that BT will have paid for three seasons rights it is easy to see why ITV has fell by the wayside. ITV may be saying BT has paid over the odds, but given that free to air transmissions only revenue source is advertising even if BT Sport was not in the running it was most likely that Sky Sports would have won.

The questions have been asked over whether BT was right to bid the amounts it did for previous sports rights, and this large sum will raise the topic once more. The steady increase in the price of basics like telephone line rental and caller ID are seen by many as helping to pay for the sports rights, though it has to be observed that other telephone providers have been doing the same for years and they do not buy sports rights.

The rise of multi-channel TV in the UK was originally driven by Sky and sports broadcasting, and it seems the same is now happening with broadband which if the predictions are correct will result in less material broadcast over expensive satellite air-time. The rise of multi-cast technology in the router hardware and IP based networks is making the broadcast of live TV feasible and with the UK Government investment the coverage of superfast broadband should hit the 98% coverage figure around 2018, and 98% is the accepted household footprint for those able to receive a Sky TV service.

For those who say there is no money in sports broadcasting, consider NOW TV Sports passes at £9.99 for a days viewing, Sky would not be maintaining that price if the passes were not selling. BT Broadband customers worried this new rights acquisition will cost them in the longer term need to remember that BT will make money from selling BT Sport to operators like Virgin Media and those that are not BT customers but who want to view the content on the Sky satellite platform.

Moving into the content arena is a logical move for a large telephone/broadband operator particularly when regulated so tightly. So while BT can be criticised for spending this money on content rather than network investment, given that no other operator is improving its physical network to the same scale there is little worry of being overtaken in that respect. The worries are from the ARPU in the retail sector and being left as someone providing fairly dumb but fast connectivity with very low payback periods. Sports rights may be a gamble, but the ROI in terms of subscriptions to watch content, retaining customers or signing up new ones is likely to see a faster return.

If there was a criticism to be made of BT Sport, it that the wide range of platforms available to watch content for free or via subscription can be very confusing.

For the overall UK broadband picture, if the sports increase popularity of IPTV and the demand for super fast services then it has to be a good thing.


Posted by dogbark over 3 years ago
>>given that no other operator is improving its physical network to the same scale

I would contend that Sky and TalkTalk both have improved their physical networks on the same scale - unless you're including the Openreach network which is available to all operators?
Posted by baby_frogmella over 3 years ago
Three words which can hurt BT Sport very badly:
Al Jazeera Sports
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
Have they hurt Sky baby_frogmella?
Posted by baby_frogmella over 3 years ago
absolutely gman, as this 83 page thread shows its far cheaper to watch footy on AJS (via a vpn of course) than it is via $ky
Posted by baby_frogmella over 3 years ago
and we're not talking about some foreign channel with polish commentary..oh no, we get the following commentators on AJS:
Richard Keys, Andy Grey, Ruud Gullit, Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage, Ray Wilkins, Ray Clemence, Mark Hateley, Tony Dorigo, Kevin Keegan, David Platt, Clive Allen, Gus Poyet, Trevor Steven, Nigel Spackman, Glenn Hoddle, Frank Stapleton, Alex McLeish, Jason McAteer, Tony Pulis, John Barnes, Peter Reid, Dennis Wise, Chris Coleman, Les Ferdinand, Bryan Robson and Ian Wright.

Posted by flippery over 3 years ago
Obviously by using VPN, shows that others are paying for the rights to enable watching of Sport. Similar to P2P in my books.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
too much effort.. are a real threat they have SS 1-4 and new + 43 other channels with US stuff and HNL.NBA,EPSN,NFL and they don't charge a penny, no VPN needed.

Going back to this article - good on BT I say
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
So you realistically think the average sports viewer is going to hook up a VPN and sub to AJS? hehehe come on... serious?
Posted by PeterProxy over 3 years ago
AJS is good for watching games not on Sky/BT. But the quality isn't as good as Sky HD. Also, no VPN is needed. A 'smart' dns will do the job.

But, if the games on sky, i'll watch it in superior quality on sky. *currently watching united vs arsenal on sky, and swansea vs stoke on AJS. Arsenal need to bring Ozil on.
Posted by lyncol over 3 years ago
€1,075,981,484 better spend on the network.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
the business has almost finished spendng 2.5bn on comercial deployment or will have done by spring 2014
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
Coolsport and its kin are all well and good but are very much like being in a flat that oversees the stadium at a distance.

A pale imitation of being there just as the dodgy streaming sites are a pale imitation of the genuine article.

This cash didn't come from the budget for the network.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago

For whom?
When all BTs major competitors are in a converging market, i.e. media, BB and other communications, BT has to compete or simply wither and die. The returns on network are diminishing or limited in margin OFCOM price controls make sure of that. VM and Sky I'm sure have 10%+ margins on many of their products, why not BT?
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
LOL at people that think businesses have a fixed pot of money and spending on A means not doing B. Businesses spend where they see a return, I used to work in a company that invested up to about £50m per year in projects but had 10 times that sat in the bank. Money is seldom a constraint, return on investing it is.
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
They didn't 'win' it, they bought it and will put up prices to pay for it.
Another very good reason NOT to have BT Sports. I am not a football fan and will not watch any commercial sport they try to call football. That's why I don't want BT Sports and will not pay for a service that is 98% unwanted.
There is life other than football.
Posted by farrina over 3 years ago
BT are already starting to charge for what were previously "free" services eg Caller Display combined with Privacy at Home & 1571. Essentially I see their general charges will increase to pay for this (hitting me as a non BT/Sky subscriber) who will be subsiding them.
Posted by wigan over 3 years ago
Posted by michaels_perry about 2 hours ago
They didn't 'win' it, they bought it and will put up prices to pay for it.
Another very good reason NOT to have BT Sports. I am not a football fan and will not watch any commercial sport they try to call football. That's why I don't want BT Sports and will not pay for a service that is 98% unwanted.
There is life other than football.

I suggest you go and get it then.

Posted by wigan over 3 years ago
By doing this BT are inadvertently giving both Virgin & Sky bloody noses. Sky didn't want to allow BT to have Sky Sport so they are now buying up their allocation where possible. About free to air on ITV networks there used to be Tuesday & Wednesday champions league but this season only one night because sky have the other, who's complaining about that?

As for that parasite Branson, his virgin demanded and got the right to supply virgin down their phone lines but I can't get any other operator down their cable. If I could I would be with Plusnet
Posted by wigan over 3 years ago
BT is a business with costs including employees (I'm not one) and like others have said they either stand still and wither under the Ofcom regulations or they expand into other areas.

Either that or remove telecoms from virgin, sky, talk talk et al if they don't want BT on TV
Posted by Adrianuk over 3 years ago
I don't think there's anything inadvertent about it, Wigan.
Posted by wigan over 3 years ago
I know, and I think they're doing a good job looking at the effect on sky shares
Posted by russianmonkey over 3 years ago
Sky - Welcome to competition.

And I believe the price rises would've happened anyway regardless of BT Sport or not.

Remember inflation does affect prices.
Posted by gerrywarren1946 over 3 years ago
As a BT Broadband customer would love to watch the'free' sport offer but my speed is just a joke with no prospect of an upgrade in the near future. Therefore only option is to subscibe to Sky which is clearly an additional cost. I am sure there are thousands of BT customers in the same position
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