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BT launches price war with Sky Shropshire Star
BT has waged a price war with rival BSkyB by offering free Premier League football for its broadband customers.
The telecoms giant, which is muscling into Sky’s dominance of sport after winning a three-year deal to show 38 Premier League games a season, also unveiled a broadband package for 10 per month and superfast fibre broadband for 15 per month.
BT’s move into football coverage is part of a strategy to strengthen its position in the broadband market, bundling its TV together with internet and telephone services in direct competition to BSkyB. Shares in its rival were down by 4%.
It plans to wrestle pubs from Sky with a sports package which it claims could be 78% cheaper than its rival. BT is offering pubs and clubs 12 months’ subscription for the price of nine, which BT said for many independent pubs works out at 135 per month.
Hotels, golf clubs and betting shops will also be offered sport packages which BT said “massively undercut” its rival.
The group also announced a host of big names to front its coverage. Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has been signed up by BT as a football expert for its new sports offer, joining Tottenham’s Gareth Bale and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Double Champions League winners Owen Hargreaves and Steve McManaman and former England goalkeeper David James have also been signed up as football experts to its sports channels, which will be called BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. Commentators will include former England striker Michael Owen, Ian Darke and Darren Fletcher.
BT said its move means live top-flight football will be “free” to watch for consumers for the first time in 20 years.
BT hopes to appeal to the 20 million-plus UK homes which have broadband, as well as attracting new customers to its internet service.
Its channels will also show 69 live Aviva Premiership rugby games per season, plus live football from leagues in Germany, France, Italy and Brazil.
BT chief executive Ian Livingston said: “UK sports fans have had a rough deal for too long.
Many have been priced out of the market but we will change this by giving away BT Sport for free with our broadband.
Sports fans are the winners today.”
Lloyds Banking Group has come under attack for cutting hundreds more jobs and planning to close a large office.
The Bank of England held back from injecting more emergency cash into the economy amid further encouraging signs after Britain avoided a triple-dip recession.
Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks have returned to profit for the half year as an overhaul by parent group National Australia Bank boosted their balance sheets.
The recent recovery in the manufacturing sector has shown signs of momentum after output rose for a second month in a row in March.