BT To Spend Billions Of Pounds To Challenge Sky Sports In Sports Broadcast Market
BT is expected to set aside billions of pounds over the next decade to spend on sports rights in "a sustained attempt to challenge Sky Sports, as it gears up to launch two new sports channels in July," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. BT, which spent £738M on 38 live Premier League matches per season last year, will "consider launching bids for a host of other major football properties" including the FA Cup, Champions League and England internationals as they become available. It will also "target other sports." BT has already signed a £152M ($245.5M) club rugby deal that has caused "major ructions within the game." However, execs are also "acutely aware that the arrival of BT in the market has already fuelled rights inflation and are determined not to overpay." This week, BT will "announce that it has signed a four-year deal" with the WTA to broadcast 800 hours of live tennis a year. The deal is expected to be "the first in a new spate of deals to fill its schedules." BT Sport Head Simon Green said that the WTA deal "would be the first of several to try and give more exposure to women's sport." Green: "This is our first women's sport for the channels, and we see a genuine opportunity to really develop the exposure for women's sport with our new channels." BT is also awaiting the outcome of a dispute between European Rugby Cup and Premiership Rugby over the future shape of European competition. It has also signed deals to show Italian, Brazilian, French and U.S. football that "all can be packaged and marketed more attractively than they are at present." The new sports channels will be made available to Sky viewers, but will also be "aggressively marketed to existing BT customers," with deals for those who also subscribe to its telephone, broadband and TV services (GUARDIAN, 1/10).