BT’s successful attempt to have the competition tribunal re-consider its Summer 2012 decision to stop Sky Sports 1 and 2 being offered to competitors under more favourable terms, could have a potentially large impact in the battle for triple play dominance in the UK ecosystem, according to analysts like Ted Hall, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
“BT’s success in forcing a re-examination of this case could prove significant,” says Hall. “Carriage of Sky Sports via BT’s YouView platform will be crucial if BT is to mount a serious challenge to Sky on the pay-TV – as opposed to the broadband – front, and the Court of Appeal’s decision in the telco’s favour is the first step towards achieving this.”
Meanwhile the ruling, by Lord Justice Aikens of the Court of Appeal, was welcomed by Ofcom today, which said that “ensuring fair and effective competition in the pay TV market” has always been its objective, and that its 2010 decision that Sky had to offer premium sports channels to other providers “was designed to deliver choice and innovation to consumers through greater competition.”
Greater competition, many observers agree, is a likely upshot of the latest decision.
“Without regulatory intervention,” says Hall, “BT’s only realistic means of gaining access to Sky Sports would be to wholesale its own sports channels to Sky and thereby give up the only real competitive advantage it has over its dominant rival, a move the telco has resisted in the hope of achieving success via the legal route. At minimum, the judgement will prolong the wholesale-sports stand-off between the pay-TV incumbent and its telco challenger.”