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UPD3 BT Confirm Cheaper UK Fibre Broadband and FREE TV Sport Service

Thursday, May 9th, 2013 (12:40 pm) - Score 1,618

BT Retail has today confirmed that customers of its various home broadband packages will now be able to get its new BTSport TV service for free, which includes live weekly matches from the Barclays Premier League (Football). On top of that the price of its superfast broadband (BTInfinity) service has been cut to just £15 a month.

It’s understood that the BTSport service will be available to existing subscribers, though anybody who also upgrades their broadband package must agree to a new 12 month contract. Similarly customers will also need to be taking BT’s line rental service, which costs £15.45 a month or £129 when paid annually (equivalent to £10.75 a month).

Ian Livingston, BTs CEO, said:

UK Sports fans have had a rough deal for too long. Many have been priced out of the market but we will change this by giving away BT Sport for free with our broadband. Sports fans are the winners today.

BT is the home of broadband so the fight for customers will now take place on our own turf. BT Sport will complement our world class fibre network. Customers don’t have to take BT Infinity to get BT Sport but we are encouraging them to move onto fibre broadband so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.”

Happily the new Sport service won’t require customers to take BT’s TV product, although that will be an option and would come with a free YouView or Vision+ set-top-box. Otherwise customers will also be able to get the service via Sky TV or via a new App for your computer, Smartphone or Tablet etc.

So what do you actually get? According to BT, existing customers will be entitled to FREE access to the BTSport 1, BTSport 2 and ESPN TV channels from 1st August 2013 with their related app / online player. Among other things this includes 38 live Barclays Premier League football matches (including 18 top picks) and 69 live Aviva Premiership rugby games.

On top of that BT wish to encourage more subscribers on to their BTInfinity superfast broadband package, which now starts at an even lower price of £15 a month (plus a £30 activation fee) for the 38Mbps package that includes a 40GB usage allowance, free weekend calls, free BT Hub 4 router, SmartTalk (internet based voice calling that’s based off your fixed line calling plan), 2GB online file storage, internet security, unlimited wifi hotspot access and more.

Customers who take BTInfinity with BT’s TV service will also have the option of receiving the Sport channels in HD for just £3 per month, a cost that will be waived for a year if they sign up before 1st August. It should also be noted that Sky TV (digital satellite) customers who don’t have a BT broadband service will still be able to get the channels at a cost of £12 a month for standard definition video and £15 for HD.

It’s clear that BT’s dramatic offer has been designed to erode Sky’s dominance of UK sport, which could have an impact on their rivals future growth. On the other hand Sport doesn’t come cheap and BT paid a hefty £246m per season for the broadcast rights (here), which is on top of £152 million for Aviva Premiership Rugby (here). Time will tell whether or not their gamble was a wise decision.

UPDATE 1:14pm

BT Sport will also be supported by a huge new advertising campaign, which will hit television screens for the first time today. In addition it’s already known that Jake Humphrey (ex-F1 host for the BBC) will be the anchor of BT Sport’s Barclays Premier League football matches and he will be supported by England and Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand.

Many others will also be involved.

UPDATE 3:17pm

Some interesting analysis from Ovum, which believes that BT’s new ploy should be successful but that their TV “strategy remains muddled“.

Jonathan Doran, Ovum’s Principal Analyst, told ISPreview.co.uk:

As these channels will also be available via the BSkyB satellite platform, this means that Sky TV customers will be able to receive BT’s sports offering, including premiership football and rugby amongst others, for free as long as they stick with, or migrate to BT broadband. With Sky currently the most aggressive of BT’s competitors in the fixed voice and broadband markets – this is a judicious strategic move which, with substantial TV marketing ready to go live today, should prove a successful ploy for BT.

The BT Sports offer marks a significant departure for BT from its previous TV service positioning. The unbundling of affordable access to premium sports content from regular pay-TV subscriptions is a move that will be attractive to many consumers. This, coupled with the subsidized sports offer for broadband customers will certainly help BT consolidate its leadership in the retail broadband access market.

As well as defending its broadband business, it is also important for BT to increase its own TV market share, as this will drive much-needed additional ARPU growth. BT will be hoping that, backed with a big marketing campaign, the new BT Sports channels (which are also free to BT TV customers) will drive greater take pay-TV up.

However, Ovum believes BT’s TV strategy remains muddled, with two distinct brands still cluttering its messaging and some unclear benefits listed attributed to its various TV packages. Much work is therefore needed to simplify the offering and drive home the advantages of BT’s TV service over that of the competition.”

UPDATE 15th May 2013

Non-BT TV customers who own a retail YouView box will apparently now also be able to access the free BTSport service via the set-top-box.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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