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BT Sport Spend £394m Per Year for UEFA Champions and Europa League Footy

Monday, March 6th, 2017 (8:25 am) - Score 1,495
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As expected BT has continued to spend big on football content for their BTSport TV service and in keeping with that they’ve signed a deal (worth “around” £394m per year until 2020/21) that will see them remain the exclusive UK home of all UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football.

BT already holds the exclusive UK TV rights to the tournaments after it grabbed them from Sky in 2013 by spending £900 million on a three season deal that spanned from 2015/16 to 2017/18. By comparison the new deal for the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons appears to have cost the telecoms giant nearly £1.2bn.

Suffice to say that the latest announcement will no doubt add further fuel to the fire of those, such as Virgin Media, who frequently complain that the rapidly rising cost of premium TV football content is causing “significant consumer harm.” Likewise those who feel as if BT is spending too much on TV sport and not enough on upgrading the national broadband infrastructure will have another reason to complain.

However BT sees all of this as necessary in order to compete in the aggressive market for quad-play TV bundles and to weaken Sky’s dominance over premium sport TV content, not to mention that they’ve now got a much bigger customer base to monetise thanks to last year’s merger with EE. Meanwhile consumers will perhaps wish that such competition would result in lower and not higher prices for their favourite sporting TV content.

John Petter, Consumer CEO at BT, said:

“We are delighted to have renewed these rights. The UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League are two of the best competitions in the world and we would like to thank UEFA for choosing us as their exclusive broadcast partner in the UK. The UEFA Champions League is due to get even stronger and we are delighted that fans will be able to enjoy two live matches a night for the first time.”

Guy Laurent Epstein, UEFA Marketing Director, said:

“UEFA is delighted to have extended the relationship with BT Sport for a further three seasons, taking our partnership to 2021. BT Sport has proved to be an innovative broadcast partner, pushing the boundaries and covering the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in new ways. BT have delivered strong audiences in the UK and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media which will engage a growing fanbase that consumes sport in different ways.”

New BT Broadband customers typically get 3 months of BTSport Pack TV content for free when they subscribe (£5 per month thereafter), which rises to £7.50 per month if you want to watch the same content on the Sky TV platform rather than just BT’s own app. Meanwhile BT TV subscribers can get the same content for just £3.50 per month (note: it’s currently free until 31st July).

BT said they will also continue to show UEFA matches using the latest broadcast innovation and technology, with games being made available in 4K ultra high definition and Dolby Atmos sound. BT are also looking to boost their social media coverage to “reach new audiences, by making clips, weekly highlights, UEFA’s magazine show, and both finals available for free on social media“.

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Mark Jackson
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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38 Responses
  1. Avatar Robert Scriven

    Thats the line rental and broadband going up again then!

    • Avatar AndyH

      This deal represents around £94m per year extra compared to the previous 3 year contract.

      When you take into account that BT will start charging customers £3.50 a month for BT TV customers and £9 a month for BT customers with Sky, then the additional cost will be easily absorbed.

      For BT to compete with Sky, they need content and need to spend on football.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      AndyH – £394m + c£300 for premiership – run that easy bit by us again. £394m needs over 9m people paying £3.50 a month.
      Good luck though.

    • Avatar AndyH

      @ NGA for all

      It’s not complicated. BT Retail was able to absorb the costs of BT Sport’s content deals previously, so what has changed? Now that BT Sport will be a chargeable service, time will tell how many of the 5 million+ customers retain BT Sport.

      The revenue stream for BT Sport is not solely £3.50 a month. There are numerous revenue streams:

      – BT/EE/Plusnet customers
      – Sky customers (with/without BT broadband)
      – Commercial subscribers (pubs/businesses)
      – Wholesale subscribers (VM and TT)
      – Advertising

    • Avatar DTMark

      This places VM in an interesting position, in that they are the only ones with a network capable of the speeds to deliver UHD streams of BT Sport effectively to very large numbers of subscribers.

      I’m no expert on the differences between the various providers, but it appears, from what I see, that in terms of content, BT’s overall offering is nowhere near in the same league (!) as their two main competitors, VM and Sky.

      For those who watch a lot of this, who also want sport, BT has some way to go to:

      – Build the content platform and catch up;
      – Build a network capable of actually distributing said content in UHD.

      Their saving grace is that Sky relies on their network. VM does not.

      Despite BT’s “fibre” offering, cable subscribers continue to increase. This does not suggest that people are leaving VM in swathes for BT. Part of that is VM’s better broadband and much of it is their superior TV offering. Sport is only one part of it.

      If BT invest a lot of money focusing on sport in an effort to try to steal Sky’s subscribers without really developing an offering that is:

      – As widely available as Sky or VM, and
      – Has better content than Sky and VM..

      This could be rather risky. It could also turn rather sour if VM tell BT to shove off and remove BT Sport from their platform. BT’s overall offering does not appear to be good enough to sway VM customers anyway.

      And if they want the sport, they can get BT Sport on Sky. With its superior overall offering.

      This does make BT look really rather vulnerable, remaining in its long-held position of “playing catch-up”. It’s big money to gamble.

    • Avatar AndyH

      “This places VM in an interesting position, in that they are the only ones with a network capable of the speeds to deliver UHD streams of BT Sport effectively to very large numbers of subscribers.”

      More than 60% of those people on FTTC will be able to receive the BT Sport ‘minimum’ requirement of 44 Mbps. This requirement is most likely going to be far in excess of what is actually needed for a 4K stream when you consider Netflix only require a minimum line speed of 25Mbps.

      “I’m no expert on the differences between the various providers, but it appears, from what I see, that in terms of content, BT’s overall offering is nowhere near in the same league (!) as their two main competitors, VM and Sky.”

      Based on what? Are we comparing just sports channels or total channels?

      “Despite BT’s “fibre” offering, cable subscribers continue to increase. This does not suggest that people are leaving VM in swathes for BT. Part of that is VM’s better broadband and much of it is their superior TV offering. Sport is only one part of it.”

      Let’s look at the last financial results for BT and VM. In 2016, VM saw a total real increase of 148,000 customers (note this is the whole year). In the 3Q of 2016 alone, BT saw an increase of 260,000 fibre customers. If you look at the last 12 months, BT has seen an increase of some 860,000 fibre customers.

      “If BT invest a lot of money focusing on sport in an effort to try to steal Sky’s subscribers without really developing an offering that is:”

      Sky don’t report the net satellite gains/losses so it’s hard to compare. However, it’s clear that Sky are in a battle with BT over TV, particularly in the largest revenue generator of sport. The fact that Sky will now be looking to provide their TV service without the need for a satellite shows that they are targeting the customers that the likes of BT/TT are gaining.

      You also see real competition to Sky from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, which provide as much or more general viewing content at a far lower cost to subscribers.

    • Avatar DTMark

      “Increase in fibre customers” != “increase in customers paying line rental”.

      60% of FTTC customers able to get < Virgin Media cable customer base?

      There's also the matter of supporting everything else in the home while a stream is running. Or two streams..

      Netflix/Amazon better than Sky platform overall doesn't compute.

      If Sky dropped BT Sport, and VM did the same, is the BT platform really compelling enough to tempt their customers? I doubt it.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @DTMark

      You’re right that BT have to grow their product still. Much like Sky and VM did, and still do.

      I’m not sure you are right to pay too much attention to the UHD product though. Like the top-tier broadband speeds, it is something that only a few percent are overtly bothered about, and willing to shell out for. It gets marketing men salivating, but the mass market lies elsewhere.

      The point with comparing VM’s subscriber numbers with BT’s fibre-subscriber count is surely that the latter are almost entirely readily capable of subscribing to BT’s standard and HD packages.

      When I look at the history of VM’s subscriber numbers, I see something different to you and AndyH.

      I see that VM’s TV subscriber level has plateaued; It reached 3.7m in 2009, peaked in 2010 at 3.8m, and has stayed around that level ever since. It has been 3.7m for the last 2 years now.

      I see that VM’s Broadband subscriber count reached 3.8m in 2009 (roughly the same as their TV subscriber count), but has then grown at just under 200k each year since then. They have now reached 4.9m broadband subscribers.

      That tells me that VM’s growth doesn’t come from their TV side, but their broadband side. Therefore, when comparing growth figures, it seems entirely relevant to compare with BT’s growth in fibre broadband – both the raw growth at Openreach level as well as the growth of BT Retail/Consumer specifically. These subscribers are, after all, equally capable of consuming the OTT services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc.

      Over the same period that VM went from 3.8m broadband subscribers to 4.9m, the Openreach fibre network went from zero to 7.2m subscribers.

      VM are indeed in an interesting position. Their broadband appears relatively compelling, but their TV considerably less so. They are a company that depends on others to produce the content – especially Sky and BT in the area of sports – but then aims to sell bundled content cheaper.

      I’m not particularly convinced that VM dropping BT’s sport channels will make them a more compelling choice in the battle of the TV bundles.

      I can see that the future lies in people consuming smaller OTT packages like Netflix, rather than complete mega-packages from Sky or VM. With some smaller sports bundle on top. It could well be that BT Sport acts as an enabler in this migration.

    • Avatar AndyH

      “60% of FTTC customers able to get < Virgin Media cable customer base?"

      What does this mean?

      "There's also the matter of supporting everything else in the home while a stream is running. Or two streams.."

      I doubt many people would be running simultaneous 4K streams. I believe the BT Sport Ultra HD channel runs around 30Mbit/s which probably explains why BT spec the minimum requirement higher. A lot of routers will prioritise IPTV traffic and we're not seeing many reports on forums etc. of people unable to run IPTV over their connections.

      "Netflix/Amazon better than Sky platform overall doesn't compute."

      I never said they were better, however they both have a significant amount of content (of which some is exclusive) at a significantly lower cost. The growth of Netlflix (25% of UK households now subscribe) has outpaced that of Sky and NowTV.

      "If Sky dropped BT Sport, and VM did the same, is the BT platform really compelling enough to tempt their customers? I doubt it."

      BT Sport pays to use the Sky EPG/CAS and it's not part of any of the Sky packages. I don't think Sky could just 'block' BT Sport from paying to be on their platform.

      Well there must be something compelling about BT TV as around one third of BT fibre customers subscribe to the TV service. I imagine we are going to see BT develop a complete IPTV package in the not too distant future, along with Sky, as things seem to be heading that way.

    • Avatar Jasse

      Yes – I told them to puck off this time!

  2. Avatar fastman

    more did information as ever — this is service provider activity that does not not determine line rental

  3. Avatar adslmax Real

    What thew point of spending £1.2bn on football? Would be nice to spend it on fibre optic instead (FTTP or FTTH) and let Sky control football rights. BT are broadband not bloody TV rights.

    • Avatar Chris

      Because many ‘network’ companies need to expand their offerings into triple and quad pay packages to help maintain ‘stickiness’ and help control attrition. The idea is to lock you into their services. It is not just BT doing this. Does little for me though, don’t like football.

      Chris.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @adslmax Real: Many people will ask the same question as to why a telecom company wants to run a TV sports channel. As long is this doesn’t impose a burden in the form of extra charges for the line rental or monthly costs of broadband it can actually do that, just like Sky and others.

      Of course, it is to be hoped that Openreach would become an independent company, with BT then being outside of heavy regulation and the freedom to venture into new markets like TV and media. Openreach could be opened up to new investors, as part of a new overall framework. This has to be designed to ensure that Openreach acts more independently from BT Group, and takes decisions for the good of the wider telecoms industry and its customers.

    • Avatar Sam

      Many people will ask the same question as to why a telecom company wants to run a TV sports channel.

      The only people asking that question are 1) Those who don’t understand business 2) Those who don’t understand the developing triple/quad play communication markets in the UK

      Why should BT plc be precluded from investing in very lucrative areas of communication and broadcasting?

      Your arguments, like always, are self-defeating. The higher the turnover and profit, the higher the available capital investment a company will have at its disposal.

    • Avatar Chris P

      What’s the point of TV companies like Sky & VOdafone becoming telecoms and broadband providers?
      What’s the point of Talk Talk and Vodafone getting into the broadcast market?

      They must all compete in each other’s markets in order to stay in the game.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Mr newton showing a lack of understanding again…

    • Avatar Fastman

      This has to be designed to ensure that Openreach acts more independently from BT Group, and takes decisions for the good of the wider telecoms industry and its customers. —

      standard tirade as ever explain for the good of the wider telecoms industry and whos going to pay for that !!!!!! — —

  4. Avatar DTMark

    So how does this all sit with OFCOM’s proposal to enforce a substantial reduction to BT’s ‘line rental’ costs?

    • Avatar AndyH

      Irrelevant?

    • Avatar DTMark

      After July – BT Sport – add £3.50 per month.

      After implementation of OFCOM proposal for line rental – deduct £5 per month.

    • Avatar AndyH

      I don’t follow. BT Sport is not free for those solely with line rental and no broadband/TV packages…

    • Avatar GNewton

      @DTMark: This is, or should be, independent of the line rental. BT Group runs several businesses, one of them being BT Sports. BT has the right like any other media company to offer media or TV services. No different from Sky or others.

      In fact Ofcom’s strategy is to make Openreach more independent from these other BT businesses which is a reasonable thing to do for the good of the wider telecoms industry and its customers. The latter is something beyond the comprehension of some hardcore BT fans on this forum.

      And it makes good business sense for BT to offer bundles (e.g. telecom line + broadband + TV), again no different from what Sky or VM do.

  5. Avatar Carter

    When is this http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/11/speed-boost-bt-openreach-prep-3db-snr-fttc-broadband-lines.html going to happen, no sign of it yet and a quarter of a way into March.
    Probably another BT “aim” AKA work of fiction.

    • Avatar Darren

      In the SIN it says “From March 2017”, from is the key word. Also, I think it’s likely they will turn it on in phases rather than the whole country all at once. How long it takes to enable everyone is anyones guess.

    • Avatar AndyH

      How is this relevant to the BT gaining CL football?

    • Avatar alan

      You touched on it yourself here AndyH http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/03/bt-sport-tv-spend-394m-per-year-uefa-champions-europa-league-footy.html#comment-176057
      Adjusting the line db should equate to better speed and thus more people able to achieve the requirement for UHD content their TV platform provides online.

    • Avatar AndyH

      Stability x performance. The results of the trial have shown that those moved over to the lower senior margin with a multicast service see increased problems.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Interesting, AndyH. Do you have more results?

      Around the time of adding vectoring, Eircom applied a static SNRM of 9dB without any DLM, in Ireland. On top of that, they used slower speeds for their TV customers to (presumably) get better stability.

    • Avatar AndyH

      Average downstream increases are : 1-2Mbps on 5dB, 3-4Mbps on 4dB and 5-6Mbps on 3dB.

      Openreach always acts on the side of caution, so they will seek stability over performance for lines with multicast.

    • Avatar alan

      “Stability x performance. The results of the trial have shown that those moved over to the lower senior margin with a multicast service see increased problems.”

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/05/bt-update-fttpod-stop-sell-removal-3db-trial-long-range-vdsl.html

      “…test with 150 lines indicated that 84% saw an improvement, while none experienced a worse service.”

      What problems?

      “Average downstream increases are : 1-2Mbps on 5dB, 3-4Mbps on 4dB and 5-6Mbps on 3dB.”

      “BT doesn’t tell us much more, except to say that they expect 100% of those in the trial to experience an average rate gain benefit of +10%, while 90% may see a rate gain of +15% and 50% could see a rate gain of +17% (i.e. the median increase expected).”

      For someone on a reasonably good line getting 60Mb (running it at 3db) should give in the region of a 9Mb gain (making it a 69Mb line)….. Unless BT and Openreach are liars.

    • Avatar AndyH

      Stability problems. Multicast lines on 3dB with a red flag (MTBE/MTBR thresholds crossed) were only being moved one dB step up at a time, which did not resolve viewing issues for some lines.

      Those comments are from BT Wholesale’s ISP Forum in May 2016 and the trial during Q116, much has changed since then.

      Average gain is 10%, which equates to around 5Mbps in the second stage of the trial. Not all lines will be suitable to be on 3dB senior margin.

    • Avatar Carter

      Link provide clearly says none experienced a worse service. Are BT LIARS?

      Also clearly states 90% could see a 15% gain, using simple maths that is more than 5Mb gain on 90% of lines capable of running 37Mb or more. Ona 37Mb line that equals a 5.55Mb gain. Given that the meadian and mean download on BT Infinity FTTC 2 according to TBB reports you like to quote is 50Mb then well over half will see more than a 5Mb gain.

      ALL lines except the very worst should see an improvement as NONE in the trial experienced issues and its not only a 3db profile that will be available but downstream noise margin shall be set to either 3, 4, 5 or 6dB.

      Its just a shame its another BT pipedream thats not here when they said it would be.

    • Avatar AndyH

      “Link provide clearly says none experienced a worse service. Are BT LIARS?”

      What would they have to gain from lying?

      I guess the fact that the proof of concept trial on 150 lines, which excluded those on multicast, and the fact that it was specifically targeted to those lines performing very well has escaped your attention here…

      “Also clearly states 90% could see a 15% gain”

      No it does not.

      The key word being “could”. This is based on those lines who are out performing the green error threshold by 10%. No where does BT state that every line in the country would be suitable for a 3dB profile.

      “ALL lines except the very worst should see an improvement as NONE in the trial experienced issues”

      Absolute nonsense. There were issues identified, as expected, which were then addressed.

    • Avatar alan

      There are no issues it is now part of SIN498.

  6. Avatar Carter

    ““ALL lines except the very worst should see an improvement as NONE in the trial experienced issues”

    Absolute nonsense. There were issues identified, as expected, which were then addressed.”

    The article clearly says “none experienced a worse service” Explain with evidence please what these issues were which only you know about.

    • Avatar AndyH

      Did you read what I wrote? That referred to the PoC trial on 150 lines. The trial has since been expanded to over 25,000 lines.

      If you want evidence, speak to OR or any ISP on the CFPCG.

    • Avatar alan

      There is no need to speak to Openreach obviously they are confident thing can and do work as intended as the 3db profile is part of SIN498.

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