We explore the battle between Sky and BT for TV rights and viewership.
The game isn’t always about glory, apparently it involves gamesmanship too. Well, that is if you are part of a two horse race between Sky and BT who are battling it out for every football lover’s viewership. This week BT announced their plans to provide Champions and Europa League coverage for BT customers with a well-received advert and social media campaign using the likes of Gareth Bale, Jose Mourinho and Dider Drogba.
BT Sport have recruited Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Glenn Hoddle, Harry Redknapp and former top-flight referee Howard Webb as new additions. This comes as BT have announced that they are to start charging for top-flight European football from August. Although, the media powerhouses that are Sky and BT are not just fighting for your viewership, but for you as a package customer, a TV viewer, an internet and (possibly) landline user.
This may be the reason behind Sky’s latest blog post by Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, on the day of BT Sport’s announcement stating “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.”
Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Lineker and Glenn Hoddle will front BT's European coverage.
Whilst BT Sport Chief, John Petter claims Sky have employed 'gamesmanship' tactics to undermine the broadcaster's launch of Champions League coverage. Though this may be true, it could be argued that the drop has coincided with the lack of English presence within the final third of the Champions League. John Petter, chief executive of BT’s consumer business, then went on to defend BT decision to bring on European football to its network alongside its decision to begin charging for the service, saying that compared with the Sky model, BT was still much more affordable.
“For too many years, too many people in this country have been asked to pay too much to view televised sport and we knew that there were growing numbers of people who either wouldn’t or who simply could not afford the sums that were being asked for. We are changing that, we are bringing premium sport to a whole new and much bigger audience.”
Despite all of this, it is key to remember that BT Sport only launched two years ago and is fast becoming a main sports broadcasters in the UK. With the launch of its new ‘Ultra HD’ 4K channel which promises four times the quality of existing HD channels, the future of BT Sports seems to be a strong competitive force for Sky Sports.
This position may have left Sky open to criticism, more competition within the market can only benefit the UK sports media industry, even if it is unwelcomed from competitors. Sky have had many years of domination within the market, but BT have come in strong and fast with wider UK reach and providing sports channels at an affordable rate with a dream team of former football stars it surely is a recipe for success, regardless of Sky's tactics.
Jan Musa | Social Media & Marketing Manager
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