Leaders In Sport: Upstart BT Gearing Up For Run At Champions League
BT, the English pay-TV sports channel rivaling BSkyB, believes it can “co-exist” with its established rival, as it gears up for an expected bid for UEFA Champions League rights to enhance its offering. BT CEO Gavin Patterson was speaking Thursday on the final day of the Leaders Sport summit in Chelsea and made it clear that BT would be taking a serious interest in future TV sporting rights, including the UEFA Champions League. BT Sport, which launched 10 weeks ago, currently has rights to English Premiership football, Scottish football, Premiership rugby and some minor sports. Patterson admitted that BT is actively reviewing all up-and-coming TV rights, including Champions League rights from 2015. The bidding process is expected to kick off in the coming months.
A BIGGER SHARE: Should it bid, it will likely go up against current rights holders BSkyB and ITV. Patterson said, “We believe the launch went well. We also recognize there is much we can do. You can expect us to do a lot more in the future if the right opportunity to create value presents itself. We believe we can co-exist with Sky, our success does not require their failure. We look at all rights, there is nothing special, in that respect, around the Champions League. There are other rights available at the moment as well as over the next couple of years and we will look at them and assess whether we feel it can improve the overall composition." Patterson reiterated that the launch of BT’s TV sport offering was intended to help keep customers from defecting to other companies offering the triple play of TV, broadband and telephony. Though BT will be judged over time whether its move into sports broadcasting was a success, Patterson believed the launch had been a success, though stressed it had taken time to get its message out. He said, “We think the launch went well. It took a while to get some the messages across, especially the fact that it is free with BT broadband and that you can get it via a Sky box but the messages are landing now.”
John Reynolds is a writer in London.