BT Sport Wants EPL Dressing Room Access; Rivals BSkyB Launch Pay-As-You-Go Gadget
An "ambitious plan" to send TV cameras into Premier League dressing rooms following matches "has been launched by BT Sport executives keen to extract the most value from their mega-money rights deal," according to Laurie Whitwell of the London DAILY MAIL. Producers at the new channel, which begins programming Thursday, "want to replicate the access granted to sports broadcasters in America, who are routinely allowed inside teams' changing areas almost immediately after full-time." BT Sport paid £738M ($1.1B) to show 38 live games in each of the next three seasons, and high-level figures "are talking about 'fresh ideas' potentially 'changing the game' after years of Sky dominance." BT Sport Exec Producer Grant Best has revealed that "top-flight clubs are not dismissing the possibility of opening their doors but conceded it would take Sky to join the lobbying process for the proposal to succeed." One major change this season is that a player and manager from each team must answer three questions from a TV reporter before every match -- "regardless of whether or not it is live on British screens" -- after they have arrived at the ground. Such plans are another sign that BT Sport is determined "to compete for the next round of Premier League packages in three years' time." BT's studios, situated in an 80,000 square feet area of Olympic Park, in Stratford, "have been finished in less than six months and are being branded 'unique' to sports broadcasting." The self-proclaimed jewel in the crown is a 20 square meter green glass floor underlined by LED strip lights that can illuminate to display a manner of pitch markings, "both for football and rugby but also tennis and netball" (DAILY MAIL, 7/25).
NOT A THREAT: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Jones & Budden wrote BSkyB "shrugged off the mounting threat posed by BT in televised sport on Friday, as robust annual results enabled it to increase its dividend by almost a fifth and to promise further share buybacks." BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch played down the launch of BT's sports channels, which will feature live EPL football matches -- "a niche BSkyB has profitably dominated by means of its Sky Sports arm." Darroch said that "Sky Sports was thriving and had customers who remained very loyal." Darroch: "We feel very good about where Sky Sports is and what we have got planned." Only days before BT Sport's launch on Thursday, BSkyB on Friday launched a £9.99 ($15.37) gadget that can be plugged into a TV "to allow non-subscribers to watch its sports coverage over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis." Although "some content will be free after the initial purchase," users would need to pay an additional £9.99 to access Sky Sports channels. On-demand films "would also cost extra." The launch "was seen as an attempt by the satellite broadcaster to grab market share" from the estimated 11 million Freeview households in the U.K. which do not subscribe to any form of pay TV (FT, 7/26).