BSkyB and BT have won a joint bid for the ‘near live’ rights to FA Premier League football coverage. The three-year deal will enable them to offer full delayed coverage or extended highlights of additional Premiership matches.
The matches will be available on Sky television and on the forthcoming BT Vision broadband television service within a 50 hour window after 10pm on the day of the game.
The two companies, which are expected to become competitors in delivering video over broadband, are reported to have paid over £84 million for the rights.
BSkyB and Irish pay-television company Setanta were previously awarded separate packages of live rights to the top Premier League matches, for which they respectively paid £1.3 billion and £393 million.
The ‘near live’ rights cover the remaining 242 matches per season. Sky has previously offered comprehensive catch-up coverage through its Football First red button interactive service.
“These near-live rights, added to the live matches, give Sky Sports unrivalled Premiership coverage,” said Vic Wakeling, the managing director of Sky Sports. “We can now promise Football First until the end of the decade and new ways of watching games, on demand, through broadband.”
It means that both Sky and BT could be offering coverage of individual matches for download over broadband. BT says it will be the first time football fans will be able to watch full Premiership matches on television on a pay-per-view basis, without paying an upfront subscription. How much it could cost to watch an individual match remains to be seen.
“We’re delighted to have won this bid,” said Dan Marks, the chief executive of BT Vision. “This is a landmark moment for sports viewing in the UK as BT Vision customers will have great control, convenience and choice over the games they want to watch without the need for an upfront subscription. This is a great example of the added value that BT broadband delivers.”