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UPDATE BT Confirm Broadband Customers to Pay GBP5 for European Football

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 (11:19 am) - Score 9,199
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UK ISP BT has today confirmed that customers of their broadband service, which currently benefit from receiving BTSport TV content for free, will in the future have to pay an extra £5 if they also want to watch European football (Champions League etc.). But it will still be free for BT TV subscribers and there’s a 4K TV channel coming too.

The battle between BT and Sky, which earlier this year saw Sky spend around £1.392bn and BT splash out £320m per season (currently £246m) on a major new Premier League TV football rights deal for the 2016/17 to 2018/19 seasons (here), has meant that the cost of TV sport content is rising fast.

As such it’s little surprise to find that BT’s model of offering completely free access to related TV content for their own broadband, phone and mobile subscribers has become strained. On top of that Ofcom’s new “margin test” of “fibre” (FTTC) broadband prices probably isn’t helping and indeed BT are currently disputing it via the Competition Appeals Tribunal (here).

Furthermore BT is also about to become the first single broadcaster to show all 350 matches across both the Champions League and Europa League from 2015/16 as part of a three-year exclusive rights deal (they grabbed the Champions League from Sky and ITV by paying £897m). But the boss of Sky Sports (Sky Broadband) has been quick to warn that this might not be the best move.

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said:

In football, it’s the intense rivalry of our domestic competitions that matters most to customers. You only have to look at the viewing figures to see the evidence.

Over the last five seasons we have seen Champions League audiences fall 36%. Last season, we saw our lowest ever average match audience and not a single European game appeared in our top 40 football matches. Overall, Champions League accounts for just 2.5% of Sky Sports viewing, while the Premier League is seven times bigger.

Meanwhile, football fans continue to show an overwhelming preference for our Premier League coverage. Once again, 49 of the top 50 most watched Premier League matches were on Sky Sports last season.

Success in the recent Premier League auction means we’ll show the matches that matter for at least four more years. From 2016, we will have even more games with 126 live fixtures, up from 116. That’s three times more than any other broadcaster.”

In fairness Champions League viewing will always be impacted by the performance of British clubs in the league, thus the fall of 36% is not unsurprising and may even be reversible in certain seasons. Never the less BT will be hoping to suck in a lot of extra customers to recoup its costs and that means a change to how they charge for and sell BT Sport TV. The operators solution is thus to split their BT Sport content into two different packages – BT Sport Pack and BT Sport Lite.

Who Pays What?

The new BT Sport Pack comprises TV channels BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, ESPN and the new BT Sport Europe channel (launches 1st August 2015 as the new home of top European football from the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League).

By comparison BT Sport Lite (BT Sport 1) will only include the live Barclays Premier League football, Scottish Professional Football League and Aviva Premiership rugby union content.

BT Sport Lite will remain FREE to existing BT broadband customers (using the BT Player App), including those taking BTMobile. Meanwhile the BT Sport Pack will ONLY be free to BT TV customers, while existing BT Broadband and BTMobile subscribers will need to optionally pay an extra £5 per month.

Meanwhile Sky TV customers who are currently paying £13.50 per month for BT Sport will get the new BT Sport Pack by default, while BT Broadband customers with Sky TV can still get BT Sport Lite for free. As before all BT Sport channels will be available in Standard Definition (SD) and in HD for an extra £4 per month.

John Petter, CEO of BT Consumer, said:

When we launched BT Sport we promised to make televised football far more accessible and affordable than it has been to date. We have opened the market to millions of new customers and we want to build on that as BT Sport becomes the undisputed home of European football.

We are of course giving our best offer to existing customers – broadband customers will get the new BT Sport Pack for the heavily discounted price of £5 whilst customers who take broadband and TV from us will get it absolutely free.

This is a new chapter for European football on TV. BT Sport will show hundreds of live matches throughout the tournament using the very latest technology. Our presenters and experts will also provide the smartest insight and analysis.”

Admittedly some will no doubt be disappointed that they have to pay extra for European footy, although the cost of £5 per month actually isn’t too bad given the huge amount of content involved.. assuming you have any interest in it. People who have no interest in sport TV content would probably rather be paying less for their broadband.

On top of all this BT has also today announced that it will launch the first Ultra HD (4K) channel in Europe during August 2015, BT Sport Ultra HD, and will also introduce a new BT TV Ultra HD set-top-box (Youview+ box with 1TB of storage). No details of the additional costs, if any, for this have been revealed.

Apparently The Community Shield will be the first 4K broadcast, with other live events shown throughout the season, including selected games from the UEFA Champions League, Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Aviva Premiership Rugby.

UPDATE 10th June 2015

BT has clarified how the ‘optional’ approach to their new BT Sport Pack vs BT Sport Lite will work for existing broadband subscribers (i.e. those without BT TV) and it’s not as clear cut as the press release first claimed.

The ISP will write to all their customers and give them the option of either taking the BT Sport Pack for £5 extra or Lite for FREE, but if customers miss the message and or fail to reply within 30 days then “we will assume they want the [BT Sport Pack] option” at £5 extra.

We don’t think that’s a wise assumption, there are many reasons why such a communication could easily be missed, lost or forgotten. ISPs should always make sure they gain clear consent for paid extras, not assumed consent. On the upside customers will still be able to cancel the service without penalty during August if they so wish, assuming they’ve spotted the change.

Meanwhile Virgin Media has said that they’re “in talks with BT Sport Europe about adding the new channel to our existing sporting action which includes Sky Sports, ESPN and BT Sport 1&2.”

Leave a Comment
28 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner

    Seems pretty cheap vs Sky, I wonder is a Sky will be able to sustain its price increase to recoup its football rights costs. Good to see the new UHD channel.

  2. Avatar DTMark

    Does anyone have any idea of roughly what percentage of people in the UK have any interest in watching televised football?

  3. Avatar dave

    So, what date does it stop being free and will it automatically start charging people who currently have bt sport with bt broadband or do i have to cancel it manually or will it be cancelled automatically when it stops being free?

    • The EU football stuff is optional.

    • Avatar dave

      wait, so we still get bt sport free with bt broadband but the champions league and europa league (if bt has that) will be disabled unless you pay £5/month? If so that is pretty good as i use bt sport for tennis and ufc.

    • Yes, as per the article.

    • Avatar dave

      the article is unclear, it says “But it will still be free for BT TV subscribers and there’s a 4K TV channel coming too.”

      I don’t subscribe to bt’s youview tv service, i have sky tv with bt broadband, i can use the bt sport channel on my sky tv by enabling it in my bt online account details. Alternatively i can watch a stream of it via bt’s website. You should have said “bt broadband subscribers” not “bt tv subscribers”.

    • Tried to be all-encompassing by saying BT Broadband customers get BT Sport Lite for free.

  4. Avatar MikeW

    Forget the football. The UHD channel is much more significant … as is news of a UHD STB.

  5. Avatar adslmax Real

    4K UHD will be extra (on top of £5) nothing is free!

  6. Avatar FibreFred

    “But the boss of Sky Sports (Sky Broadband) has been quick to warn that this might not be the best move.”

    lol, so they won’t be bidding next time around then? 😀

  7. Avatar HateSky

    This is bad news. I only watch tennis on BT Sport 2 which is currently free on Sky as I am a BT Broadband customer. Only BT Sport Lite will be free – and there will be no tennis on Lite – it will stay on BT Sport 2. So, I will have to start paying for it.

    BT are becoming like Sky – Kings of robbery 🙁

    • Avatar adamcreen

      I understand your frustration – we only watch the WTA stuff on BT Sport 2. But you have been getting a nominally £13.50 a month service for free all this time – to take it away is not roberry, it’s business. We don’t think £5 a month is too much to pay for the tennis, especially if we get some extra football as well.

  8. Attempted to “downgrade” to BT Sport Lite by clicking on the link in BT Sport email received today…..my PC opens a new window and some background pictures then hangs. I have tried this twice, same result both times. I fear this is going to be a frustrating experience to downgrade.

  9. Avatar Jamie

    This is disgusting. How dare BT assume I want what is in effect an entirely new product? Im assuming that BT’s automatic ‘opt in’ approach it is legal, but it certainly shouldn’t be.

  10. I only watch MotoGp and have no interest in other sports. However, I am not going to be paying £19.99. Off to watch the highlights on ITV for free.

    • Avatar Lesley Gill

      Me 2

    • Avatar Csthy

      I only watch Moto GP on BT sport. Most people who follow this sport have no interest in football. So why should we pay extra. Why not have a pay to view if a lot of people only follow one sport. We lost Moto GP from Eurosport and had to pay extra to BT Sport whilst in Europe it is still shown on T.V for free. Come on Dorna step up and look after your British fans.

  11. Avatar Trevor

    I’m subscribing to BT Sport via Plusnet who are much cheaper than BT themselves at £7.49 for HD a month but that will be hiked to £12.49 a month from August. Like Kella, I only subscribed for Motogp which BT stole from Eurosport and the BBC and I’ve no intention of paying more to support another footy channel. I hate football. I’ve phoned Plusnet this afternoon and have canceled BT Sport from mid July. Lets hope many more vote by withdrawing their subscriptions if they can and show BT how greedy they are.

  12. Avatar Andy

    i only subscribe to BT for the Moto GP, I have no interest what’s so ever in football and its overpaid prima donnas. Why are we, as Moto GP fans, being penalised so BT can have the football coverage?
    I will be cancelling my subscription with BT and to be honest the quality of the internet provided by them (BT Invinity) was pretty poor and very unreliable.

  13. Avatar Will Richardson

    BT obviously had to start charging but the way they are going about it is outrageous. It is made as difficult as possible to downgrade. My broadband connection is vital to me and I cannot afford to endanger it, but will I have done so if I refuse to pay £5/month (which in 2016 will be £10 and in 2017 £20)?

  14. Avatar Richard

    Letter announcing BT Sport Pack charges only arrived on 31 july 2015 saying charge would apply from 01 August 2015! Spent 90 minutes on 01 August 2015 downgrading to BT Sport-lite (the operative panicked and offered 6 months at £2.50 per month for BT Sport Pack). Am annoyed as I have a contract from BT dated May 2015 renewing the BT Broadband service for a further 12 months. No mention of price hike for Sport or the splitting of the service and in fact I would contend that my contract should cover the full package as it specifically references the BT Sport pack.

  15. Avatar Lesley Gill

    I only watch MotoGP why have you not put this in your lite package very unfair to us non footballers I will be leaving BT in October when my contract finishes

  16. Avatar Joan Windsor

    i had to subscribe to bt sport in order to watch moto GP live, not interested in any other sport, but I refuse to pay £24 to watch it any longer. Will watch for free on itv4

  17. Avatar Brian Barrett

    I only had bt broadband so I could watch moto gp.
    Wont be paying for bt2 to subsidise yet more football. Moto gp should definitely be included in sports lite.

  18. Avatar Steve Jackson

    Having spent ages on the phone to BT I have been told the only way I can get BT2 sports channel is to sign up for 12 months. I am moving abroad over the next few months so I cannot do that. I have a rolling month by month broadband which I have to pay an extra £6 for because I cannot commit to 12 month contract. I will be sooooo happy when I move and tell BT to shove the lot. Never again BT.

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