In a move taking it head-to-head with BSkyB, BT today announced the roll-out of its BT Sport service, which will offer a range of sports channels to its broadband customers.
The best news comes for existing BT broadband customers, who will be able to access the new service completely free of charge.
BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN channels will be available to BT Broadband subscribers to stream via the web or YouView as well as iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, with an app on its way.
Non-BT customers, meanwhile, will be able to get BT Sport via Sky equipment for £12 a month – or £15 for HD - even if they don't currently have a Sky subscription. Customers with non-fibre connections will be able to get BT Sport via a Vision+ box, however ESPN won't be included in this.
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As for content, BT has secured the rights to bring 38 live Premier League matches next season, as well as a range of other sports. It marks the first time that live weekly Barclays Premier League football matches will be free to view.
While BT didn't make any official announcement regarding launch date, Gavin Patterson, chief exec of BT retail division, confirmed in a roundtable that while sales go live today, the channels won't be available until August.
"We're going to connect people to sport in a completely new way," said Patterson. "Our focus on fibre means that we're in a great position to create the next generation of television."
Fruit 'n' Fibre
The announcement comes as BT continues to aggressively roll out its fibre broadband service around the UK. BT confirmed that it is on track for fibre to cover two thirds of homes and businesses in the country by next spring.
As for going up against Sky, a BT spokesperson told TechRadar: "A lot of our broadband customers have defected to Sky because Sky came in with a very aggressive offer... we really want to get those customers back on our broadband"
"There's a degree of BT and Sky rivalry, undoubtedly," he added. "But we're wanting to pinch broadband customers back from Virgin and Talk Talk as much as from Sky."
"This is really a battle for broadband but the TV is the bait."