BT customers have discovered how much they’ll have to pay to keep watching Sky Sports – and they’re not happy.
Last week Sky unveiled a radical rebranding of its entire sports line-up which, from July 18th, moves channels away from their current number-based names to new sport specific branding.
While Virgin Media and TalkTalk have wholesale deals in place with Sky which allow them to offer all of its channels to customers, the satellite broadcaster and BT are locked in dispute over access to each other’s content.
As a result of the long-running spat BT customers are unable to access any of Sky’s entertainment channels and the ISP is limited to offering Standard Definition versions of Sky Movies and just two of Sky’s existing sports channels – Sky Sports 1 & 2.
In turn the broadband giant turned broadcaster refuses to wholesale its sports channels and AMC, the US drama channel it has exclusive UK rights to, to Sky. Instead it sells the channels direct to its competitor’s customers by making use of an Ofcom ruling allowing channel owners to unlock channels on a customer’s viewing card.
BT’s own sports offering includes exclusive coverage of the UEFA Champions Europa Leagues, plus rights to the next Ashes series, Aviva Premiership Rugby and, from next season, exclusive rights to the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
The ongoing dispute rose its head again last week when BT had to negotiate a new deal to retain access to some of Sky’s rebranded sports channels, finally announcing it would offer one full-time channel, Sky Sports Main Event, and the pop-up Sky Sports Extra which will offer premier league games that can’t be shown on Main Event.
Today BT has confirmed that customers will have to pay £27.50 per month for the Standard Definition version of Sky Sports Main Event and £33.50 for the High Definition version.
In comparison, the same £27.50pm would get customers all 10 of the new channels on Sky’s own platform.
Customers have been expressing their unhappiness on various forums and social media but the fraught relations between the two broadcasters mean it’s unlikely a better deal will be forthcoming anytime soon.
Some sports fans are hoping media regulator Ofcom might intervene, however as Sky is offering its most attractive content to BT on mutually agreed terms, this currently seems unlikely.
A BT Spokesperson said: “We will be offering our customers a great range of sporting action from Sky.
“Our customers will be able to take Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Extra instead of Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2.
“They will be able to enjoy the same Premier League football along with a selection of the best of Sky’s other premium sport channels, including cricket, golf and Formula 1.”