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BT scores major coup with Premier League rights

BT Vision image

BT is preparing to launch Vision 2.0 later this year

The live television rights for the 2013/14 and 2015/16 seasons of the English Premier League (EPL) have been awarded, with UK telco BT winning two packages for its IPTV service ‘BT Vision’ for the first time.

The Premier League sold the domestic broadcast rights for the next two seasons of the EPL for GB£ 3.018bn (US$ 4.68bn), with satellite operator BSkyB also winning significant packages. Sports channel ESPN meanwhile lost out in the bidding.

BT is spending GB£ 246mn per season on its package of rights, which include 18 first picks of games (around half of those available), and access to a total of 38 live games, including the opening game of the season, which represents a quarter of the 154 matches to be shown each season

The telco also revealed plans to launch a new football-focused channel to carry the games, which will offer interactive features when supplied over BT’s fibre network, and BT will also seek to distribute the channel on other platforms.

The big winner in the EPL’s massive rights auction however was Sky, which won five of the seven packages available per season, totalling 116 matches per year.

The satellite broadcaster will pay GB£ 760mn per year for the five packages of live rights over the course of the next three years, and doubtless also plans to offer the matches on the new over-the-top (OTT) video service it is launching later this year, dubbed ‘NOW TV’ – more details here.

BT has been operating its TV service ‘BT Vision’ since 2007, with linear channels initially delivered via the UK’s DTT service ‘Freeview’, and VOD and interactive content delivered via IP.

Recently however, the telco has enabled its network for multicast delivery and started delivering linear channels via IP, with National Geographic Channel becoming the latest earlier this week (details here).

The telco added 28,000 TV subscribers in the quarter to reach over 700,000, up 23% on an annual basis. Additional content was also added to the TV service in the quarter as a result of deals with Miramax and UKTV.

BT is planning to introduce a new BT Vision service later this year, dubbed Vision 2.0, and industry analysts Ovum (part of Informa Telecoms & Media, publisher of IP&TV News) recently praised BT’s television strategy as helping it compete with the likes of Sky and Virgin – more details here.

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