back to article Setanta, ESPN couldn't make UK footie TV work. How will BT Sport?

Having acquired the TV rights to top-flight sports for £736m, BT is to give much of it away to its broadband punters at no extra cost - or indeed to anyone who wants to pony up just a few quid a week. Last year, the telco shelled out millions for the rights to show 38 Premier league football matches live over a three-year …


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  1. Ian 62

    If my math is correct

    736 mil for 38 matches:

    19mil per match

    9.5mil per team

    860,000 per player

    9500 per minute.

    Damn I'm in the wrong job.

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: If my math is correct

      Don't the match officials get anything? :)

      Cheer up, have a beer. I, too, am always astounded by the amount folks are willing to pay to watch a group of chaps kick a ball about. Yes, they may be talented ball-kickers, but many thousand-pounds-a-week good? I suppose they've got to offset for 20-30 years of scrabbling around trying to get a job when they're past it - there's only so many top-tier managerial/coaching jobs, after all, but I have a sneaky suspicion that a bunch of them will employ good "financial advisers" in that regard...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If my math is correct

      That is for 3 years so only £6.5m a match. Still in the wrong job though

    3. nuked

      Re: If my math is correct

      "Damn I'm in the wrong job."

      Assuming you realise that there is more to running a football club than simply paying your players. Otherwise, I'd continue sweeping if I were you.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If my math is correct

      Close, but you need to divide the £736M by three as that is the total for 3 seasons (3x38 matches).

      If the office is anything to go by this is going to be pretty successful. Several are now seriously considering switching over to BT to get the sport and a few more are considering cancelling sky sports as they are existing BT broadband customers. One has even switched already, though it took him a while as the BT website was queuing requests due to 'unprecedented demand'.

      Most media outlets have also missed the fact that BT haven't got the same rights deal as ESPN, Setanta etc as 18 of the 38 are first choice picks. Sky won't be the only channel offering the best matches any more.

  2. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    I've got both Sky and BT Youview already, and I'm not interested in paying to watch football on either of them!

    1. steve 27

      So why have you replied to this thread ??

  3. JayBizzle

    I wish BT luck with this, nothing wrong with a bit of competition for Sky and they are big enough to take them on.

    I have BT fibre and Sky HD already but I am not really interested in the Sports as I think it is a needless expense but if BT are giving it for free I might take a look.

  4. DJO Silver badge

    St Nick from Sirius?

    "Setanta", hmm, a rather too obvious anagram of "Santa ET" or even "Satan ET", is there something we are not being told?

    1. proto-robbie

      Re: St Nick from Sirius?

      Eat ants

  5. Chad H.


    Well the difference between ESPN/Setanta and BT is the same as the difference between ESPN/Setanta and Sky. Both Sky and BT were (intially at least) pushing premium sport to push their other products... Its the same strategy Murdoch's other companies have used so effectively into getting people onto his pay platform overseas - tempt em with cheap exclusive sport to get onto the plaftform, make initial cash from supplementary products, and then milk em later when you cant get it anywhere else.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Well

      In the UK at least, the sport on Sky was never the cheap bit. The Sport was the lure, and the fact you weren't allowed to buy that package until you'd shelled out for films as well was the extra gravy.

      Whatever you might say about Murdoch, he was certainly willing to spend big, think long-term and take big risks, in order to build Sky and make it profitable.

      As well as cross-subsidising from other bits of the empire to kill off rivals (BSB), and huge cross-advertising from his newspapers...

  6. andy 28
    Thumb Down

    and motogp

    Couldn't care less about football (except to hope BT lose lots of money on it). But now the B**T**** have got MotoGP too. Guess that leaves BBC with nothing. I don't care for crappy streams, I want to timeshift and fast forward and rewind just like I've been doing for years. Backward step to lose, lose all round. Yes, I'm a Luddite

    1. Shrimpling

      Re: and motogp

      I'm actually happy about the MotoGP...

      I refuse to pay for Sky so have had to put up with the BBC coverage and them moving it to the red button or online if anything else happens at the same time.

      BT Sport have promised to show all the races, qualifying and practice as well as programs about MotoGP when there aren't any races, I can't help feeling if the BBC had offered this they may have kept the contract.

    2. Elmer Phud

      Re: and motogp

      " But now the B**T**** have got MotoGP too."


      Now I'm miffed.

    3. Andy_H

      Re: and motogp

      Yep, read about the MotoGP last night, can't believe that one. Looks like I'll be resorting to dodgy streams.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and motogp

      If it works like BT Vision you can pause, FF and REW stuff that you're streaming.

  7. Can't think of anything witty...

    Is this not getting ridiculous?

    So let me get this straight. Last year, if you wanted to watch all the football, you paid Sky a wad of money and then watched it.

    Now, you will need to pay Sky a wad of money (presumably of the same thickness) and then another wad to BT on top.

    This is stupid and unfair. And it has very little to do with Sky or BT.

    I blame the premier league. because they only sell exclusive rights they basically support a monopoly. anyone else is going to find it extremely difficult to enter the market because anyone who wants the fiull package will have to deal with 2 (or more) companies as soon as the rights get split. If they we unable to sell exclusive rights (so that at least 3 broadcasters carried it for example) then you would start to see competition on the basis of quality of coverage / price.

    though of course, that does mean that the premier league would get less cash from the fans via the broadcasters. would that ne a bad thing for most people? well, super car sales would presumably slump as a result of footballers having to scrape by on barely the national median wage every week, as opposed to whatever it is that they get paid these days, but aside from that i'm not sure that it would be that important.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Is this not getting ridiculous?

      I imagine to watch all the football you'd need a lot of spare time, and perhaps a time machine.

      But you have a point. Rather than selling by who gets the first pick, maybe they should give the rights back to the teams. Want to watch all of your team? Watch your teams chosen channel.

    2. Chad H.

      Re: Is this not getting ridiculous?

      Well no, last year you had to pay ESPN/Setanta too.

      5 Years ago you could just pay sky, but that was determined to be anticompetitive, so the PL was forced to split sales.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leave Sky? With pleasure

    Ignoring the sports deal, as I don't have Sky Sports and won't be having BT Sports, laving Sky for BT was an easy decision.

    After getting fed up of the constant repeat of average films, the ramming down your throat of this months latest blockbuster (Shown about 30 times a week) and the bizarre showing of Christmas films in the middle of summer, we cancelled Movies. If someone could explain the truly dire offerings on movies on weekend evenings, I'd love to hear it. Their reaction was to try and sell us more movies at an increased cost, not exactly a winning sales technique.

    So, we wanted fibre, to upgrade from the carrier-pigeon speed we currently "enjoy" from Sky. Not really Sky's fault, we're miles from the Exchange. The costs between the two are virtually the same, although with BT offering a near-£60 saving by paying up front on line rental, the BT price was considerably cheaper. Throw in more public wi-fi and an app that lets you call over any wi-fi connection at local rates, and it looks better.

    Cancelling with Sky was a tortuous, prolonged phone call though. The repeated requests by SWMBO to just cancel the account were met with pleas from the woman on the other end that she "had a job to do" and was trying her best to sell us even more channels we don't want, albeit at slightly cheaper prices. Her assurances that she could offer 7-14Mb download speeds were quite amusing, given that the broadband speed checker running it's test as she spoke was barely struggling to get above 3Mbsec.

    There are other reasons to leave... a fault with the Sky router which means it is impossible to see what devices are attached. Reporting this to Sky resulted in an admission that they knew about this fault, had no fix for it and no intention of releasing a firmware update for the router. Their solution? Pay £60 for the new Sky Hub. Use the perfectly good router sitting in a box, that I used before switching to Sky? No... that's not allowed.

    Will I miss anything? Probably the occasional use of Sky+ app. Sky Go? No... a handful of channels, can't use it abroad and it doesn't work on my phone at all. The Sky love affair with iOS also means that I have no faith that this situation will change and if I happened to get a WinPhone (unlikely, but, you never know), Sky are even worse at supporting that than Android. Oh, and suggest that Sky love Apple on their forums and get your post modded and a warning email sent to you!

  9. Professor Clifton Shallot


    "Are there enough semi-interested football fans - remember the real enthusiasts already have Sky - prepared to mull switching to BT?"

    The 'real enthusiasts' watch games in good old binocular 3D at the various stadiums / grounds / shitholes that the games are actually played in.

  10. David 155

    lets get this straight

    So it isnt 'free for broadband customers' because you need to have their telly service too? Can you watch via android/apple app if you only have the broadband?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lets get this straight

      Look at the website, it clearly says that on the 1st of August, ALL existing broadband customers will be able to download the app or stream from the website.

      BT TV customers (paying the fiver a month) get the channels on their vision box as well. Not sure if this applies to infinity customers only though...

    2. Shrimpling

      Re: lets get this straight

      If you already have BT broadband you will be able to watch it online or via an android/apple app.

      If you already have BT broadband and Sky box and valid viewing card (you do not need a subscription) then you can watch it through the sky box after registering with BT.

      If you really want to you can pay for their telly service and get it that way.

      I will be going for via an Android app with a HDMI cable connecting my phone to the TV.


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lets get this straight

      Yes there is app only access which is free if you have bt broadband

    4. nwlad

      Re: lets get this straight

      yes if you are a BT broadband customer already.

  11. nuked

    This is as far from "Premiership football for Broadband customers at no extra cost" as you can get. This sort of marketing is just going to piss people off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How so? It seems clear. You have BT Broadband, you get to watch the games.

  12. cs94njw
    Thumb Up

    Couldn't happen to two nicer companies. I'm not the hugest fan of BT, but sticking it to Sky makes me forgive them... well... at little bit.

    Looking forward to the aftermath of this *reaches for popcorn*

  13. jonathanb Silver badge

    Rubbish business plan

    BT's business plan is to spend more money than Sky to buy the product, and sell it for less than Sky sells it for.

    In their 2012 accounts, Sky had sales of £6791m, and a profit before tax of £1189m, a net profit margin of 17.5%. That is a pretty decent wedge of money for Rupert Murdoch, but there is no way BT can offer the sorts of discounts vs Sky pricing that they are proposing. Out of their income, £440m comes from advertising, the rest comes from customer bill payments of one sort or another.

    The maths is pretty simple. It costs BT over £19m just to be allowed into the stadium with their cameras. Then they have the costs of actually producing the show - the presenters, cameramen, all the people in the broadcast centre working on the images and sound.

    You divide that by the number of people watching the show, and that is how much you need to be able to charge for it to be viable. Whether of course sufficient customers will pay the number you come up with is another matter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rubbish business plan

      Yes, its rubbish - if they are going to lose their nerve after a year or three of losses and cut and run. Building up a compelling pay tv offering takes fergie-like levels of commitment, spending and longevity - in fact when I cancelled sky I imagined myself kicking fergie in the teeth. If felt great.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rubbish business plan

      I suspect the business plan is more along the lines of;

      "Sell broadband, phone and football for quite a bit less than Sky and watch Sky customers switch to BT".

      We're in a recession - people are price-sensitive. I suspect a lot of people would choose to save £20 a month (or whatever the figure is) and still be able to see some football.

  14. Tom 260

    I'd think most people will be happy to stick with Sky for their 116-odd matches, and go down the pub on the rare occasion their team is on BT (assuming the pub shells out for it...)

  15. Paul Shirley

    Still seen no explanation of how pubs will continue to show matches after BT take over. Even if BT have a licence programme in place I can't see any paying yet another hefty fee on top of Sky or installing more equipment.

    This deal looks like it kills some of the traditional 'day in the pub' watching sports. Yet they aren't going to charge anyone that stays at home to watch? Do they really believe locking away some minor matches on their service will get people buying BT Vision at home? It didn't work when ESPN and Sky was available on every imaginable delivery channel - Freeview, Satellite, Broadband & mobiles, not likely to work now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      pubs & hotels

      BT also have a pubs and hotels offering, which is priced on the same moronic and discriminatory basis as Sky's - rateable value of the premises., no appeal, no discussion, no sensible assessment of whether matches are actually shown or not.

  16. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    I heard an interview with BT's head of telly on Radio 4's excellent Media Show last year. They'd just won the rights, and yet were totally unwilling to say what they'd charge, who they'd let see it or even give a general idea of what their strategy was. It was almost as if they'd just bunged out a bid, stumped up loads of cash, and were hoping for the best.

    This mini-TV rights package is such a booby-prize, created entirely by the ECJ being ridiculous. All it's done is wasted a bunch of cash from various failed TV ventures - and forced consumers into paying £10-£15 a month extra to get exactly what they were getting on Sky a few years ago. I guess BT can do something with it, as I believe Sky have to let them show Sky's sports channels on BT Vision. But then I assume that works both ways and BT will have to make it available on Sky's platform too.

  17. PsychicMonkey


    I've never understood how it's good for the consumer to split the packages up like OFCOM insisted they do.

    If Sky have all the games I pay Sky to watch them, if (like now) Sky & ESPN have the games I have to pay Sky & ESPN to watch what I could have watched with Sky if they still had them all. The BT deal is the same thing again. This isn't competition.

    Competition would be multiple broadcasters having the rights to the same games so I could choose who I wanted to buy from, thereby makign it cheaper for the consumer via competition. All that has happened here is that Sky still charge the same for less games and someone else charges again for the rest.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Competition...

      It wasn't Ofcom. It was a challenge in the European Court of Justice. Can't remember who brought it now. To comply the Premier League were forced to split the rights into 'equal' packages, and no broadcaster was allowed to own all of them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Competition...

      is it possible you are confusing OFCOM policy with "things that make sense"? Ofcom is not interested in competition in sports broadcasting, and neither this nor the previous government have had the b***s to do anything about it either. If they were serious, it would be as you've said but more so - all events, in all sports, available to multiple broadcasters (meaning three or more) and absolutely not one event allowed to be delivery mode specific (so there must always be a way to access using multiple mechanisms, whether paid channels or not things cannot be satellite only, or broadband only, or indeed digital terrestrial only). There would be a rule saying all national team events - whether Scotland football, England rugby, Wales etc etc - must be available free to air across multiple delivery mechanisms.

      That would be competition. Shame Ofcom can't spell the word.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Competition...

      Couldn't give a toss about football personally but it peeves me immensely to have to have both Sky and ESPN subs in order to enjoy the premiership rugby. Splitting of rights, no matter what the sport is a bunch of arse. Splitting rights 3 ways would be an even bigger bunch of arse and it should be stopped. Shame the regulators are bunch of stupid arses.

      I like the idea of having a channel dedicated to a specific team. I'd certainly subscribe to a Leicester Tigers channel. Shame it'll never happen. Arse !

      1. Terry Barnes

        Re: Competition...

        I thought some clubs did have their own Internet TV stations? Southampton do I believe.

  18. batfastad

    MotoGP, Eurosport

    Completely gutted about the MotoGP. Not about the BBC losing it. But I've been watching it with Toby & Jules on Eurosport for over 10 years so it will be sad to see that go. I reckon WSBK will be next.

    What's insane is that they're trying to compete with Sky on content, yet they don't even have 1/10th of the content. When you compare the price to Sky Sports (once you've bought everything else) then BT Sport is expensive as well, per minute per channel.

    It's annoying that I know exactly what will happen. Subscribers surprisingly won't suddenly ditch Sky and flock to the service and definitely won't take out a subscription to BT in addition to Sky. So they'll pump less and less money into the coverage over the next 5 years, eventually for BT Sport to be canned or morphed into some other half-baked service. And Dorna (commercial operator of MotoGP) will be begging Eurosport and the BBC to take it back.

    Still not giving up my Eurosport Player subscription, still great value for £3 per month. Though it is Silverlight.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for the MotoGP heads-up

    The best I can say about the deal is that I've been thinking about switching broadband provider in order to go to fibre for a while now and this at least lets me say "But you don't offer MotoGP. But you don't offer MotoGP..." in a suitably parrot-like manner to their cancellations-droid.

  20. nwlad

    Great news! for Rugby fans

    As an existing BT Infinity subscriber, this is fantastic news - I get for free, premiership footie and MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, all of next seasons Aviva Premiership Rugby games. We don't have a youview box but for £5 a month it's a bargain for us. We had Sky once upon a time but we found that the cost of the packages kept going up and up and eventually we ended up dropping packages each year until it was no longer worth keeping and I hate putting money in Murdochs pockets.. I really hope this works out as it gives us non SKY lovers a real alternative. I have rechecked Sky's packages over the last years and their recent SKy Sports app on the ipHone / IPad is interesting at £5 a month but we understand that is going up to £10 a month soon anyway. We stream movies from sites such as Blinkbox so I don't need a Movie channel like Sky movies and Sport was the one thing missing .

    So for me this is a great deal.. :)

  21. CaptainBlue

    Broadband? If only...

    I'm a tad peeved about the MotoGP, especially as BT can't be bothered to:

    a) install fibre in SE16 where I am (overlooking Canary Wharf and Telehouse); and

    b) provide decent wired alternatives.

    Yes, I'm only able to get around 400kbps at best with any ISP due to BT's crappy infrastructure.

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