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SBD Global/August 16, 2013/Media

BT Sport Channels Available To Virgin Media TV Customers After Parties Reach Deal

BT "has reached a deal to make its new sports offering available to customers of Virgin Media," which will recoup part of its estimated £1B ($1.56B) investment in the channels, according to Henry Mance of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The three-year agreement, which comes days before the start of the Premier League football season, "brings BT Sport to about 2m households who have Virgin’s XL package, tripling its reach to 3m." BT could receive £75M ($117M) a year under the deal, analysts at Barclays estimated, although "it is likely to lure fewer broadband subscribers to switch to its services from Virgin as a result." Enders Analysis analyst Claire Enders said, "This looks like a fairly defensive move from both parties." A deal between BT and Virgin "had long been rumoured, with key issues including the wholesale price of the channels and their inclusion in customer bundles" (FT, 8/15). In London, Mark Sweney reported BT execs "will be breathing a sigh of relief, as it needs to offer the channels to as many pay-TV homes as possible" to recoup the £1B-plus it has spent acquiring sports rights. BT TV CEO Marc Watson said, "BT has made a large investment in BT Sport and this is an important commercial agreement for us" (GUARDIAN, 8/15).
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