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UPD BTVision Broadband TV Boosted by GBP152m Premiership Rugby Deal

Wednesday, Sep 12th, 2012 (2:11 pm) - Score 862

BT has today won four years’ worth of exclusive live TV broadcasting rights for Aviva Premiership Rugby and the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Sevens from the 2013-14 season, which will be shown over its broadband IPTV service (BTVision) and could be seen as yet another challenge to Sky (Sky Broadband) and ESPN’s dominance of TV sport.

The £152 million deal follows a similar move in June 2012 (here), which saw BT pay a hefty £246m per season for the broadcast rights of 38 live Premier League Football matches a season (2013-14 and 2015-16).

On top of that BT will also have the exclusive live broadcast rights to matches played by Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs in any future European competitions from 2014-15 for three years.

Marc Watson, BTVision CEO, said:

BT is delighted to have secured this deal. Rugby Union is entering a thrilling phase with the World Cup being staged here in 2015 and rugby returning to the Olympics in 2016. We plan to bring the excitement of the very best matches to as wide an audience as possible. We will also be bringing all of the action together in one place and will look to distribute it on a variety of platforms.

BT is serious about sport and this deal means we will be offering the very best rugby action alongside some of the most thrilling football matches from the Premier League. That is a winning combination and one that will appeal to fans of both sports.”

However, as with their recent football deal, BT will need to be careful. History has shown that expensive TV sport doesn’t always work out as intended and can often end up dragging an otherwise good service down. Just ask the founders of defunct digital terrestrial TV service ONdigital (ITV Digital), which suffered a similar fate.

In this case BT isn’t likely to run out of money and its BTVision service is more mature, yet they will surely need to attract a large number of new subscribers in order to make the deal work. Many of those would have to come from Sky, which is currently enjoying a comfortable level of growth.

UPDATE 13th September 2012

The European Rugby Cup (ERC) is now disputing BT’s new deal and claims to have already given the exclusive coverage rights for European matches to BSkyB (here); a decision that was apparently taken on 6th June 2012. Meanwhile Premier Rugby claims that only it has the rights to do that. One for the courts perhaps.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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