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SBD Global/July 21, 2014/Media

Battle Between Sky Sports, BT Sport Starting To Heat Up With EPL Season Approaching

The "first sign of a new season" is when BT and Sky Sports "start spending a fortune on adverts telling fans which matches they have secured in the opening round of the convoluted 'picks process' that dictates which of the two rival broadcasters will show each game," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. John Petter, who is the CEO of BT Consumer, the wing of the company that oversees BT Sport, said, "If there’s one lesson from the Premier League in 2013-14 it’s that there is more than enough drama to go around. Sky had some decent viewing figures and we were happy with ours too." It has been almost two years since BT announced its intent "to take on Sky." The man who helped plan that deal around his kitchen table "is trying to play down the enmity that has grown between them." Now he says he "wants to move on from that bitter war of words." Petter: "We’re not focused on them and we shouldn’t be focused on them. We’re focused on our customers." The "truce may well be a case of the calm before the storm." There will be a "major battle for the next set of Premier League rights." The starting gun for that battle, which analysts expect to increase the £3B deal by 40%, "will be fired later this year when the Premier League releases its invitation to tender documents for the three seasons" from '16-17. Petter "is unsurprisingly coy about BT’s likely strategy." It "will have to decide how to proceed after plumping for a 'middle way' that offers BT Sport free to its own broadband customers and charges £12 a month to Sky customers." That strategy "will have to shift anyway when it starts exclusively showing all Champions League and Europa League games live" from '15-16. That could "clear the way for a strategy whereby BT customers get the main channels free but pay extra for a premium service -- which could house the most attractive Premier League games" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).
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