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BT Sport to televise Manchester City and Manchester United FA Cup ties

11 December 2013 17:50:46 mirror - Sport

BT Sport have announced a trio of fixtures that will hit your screens on the first weekend of 2014

Vice Sport Time11 December 2013 17:50:46


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Technical issue hits BT Sport app

17 August 2013 16:04:15 BBC News - UK

Some BT Sport customers complain of problems with the new broadcaster's mobile app, as it airs its first live Premier League match.

Vice All News Time17 August 2013 16:04:15


BT Sport finds a way past Sky Sports' advertising restriction

29 July 2013 16:54:34 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh sign shirt deal with BT Sport • Scottish Rugby Union hints at more money for both clubs BT Sport has found a way past Sky Sports' ban on screening its rival broadcaster's adverts by signing a four-year shirt sponsorship deal with two of the teams Sky has signed up to televise. Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby have agreed a "substantial multi-million pound" contract that will mean both clubs will sport BT's logo on their shirts. The Scottish sides compete in the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup competitions. Sky will screen Heineken Cup games from October this year and matches from the RaboDirect Pro12 from 2014. The announcement of the deal follows an Ofcom ruling in June that rejected BT's complaints over Sky's refusal to promote its new rivals on its own channels. BT will launch three channels this week, broadcasting live football from the Barclays Premier League in England and Scotland's newly formed Scottish Premiership. Its rugby content includes Aviva Premiership matches and France's Top 14 – but it will not screen games involving the two sides it has just signed up to sponsor. However, Marc Watson, chief executive of TV for BT Retail, claims that could change in the future. When asked if the deal with Edinburgh and Glasgow was a ploy to get around Sky's ban, he said: "When you are looking at a sponsorship arrangement, one of the things you look at is who is going to see your logo, your brand. The audience that follows Scottish rugby is an important audience for us to reach. "The RaboDirect will be covered by Sky and other broadcasters too in the next few years and that broadcaster exposure is one of the elements – but not the only one – in what is quite a broad deal with Scottish Rugby. "We launch three channels later this week and it's a major strategic objective of the company to establish those channels and to make them a success. As we are launching those channels into the marketplace it seems an obvious thing to use this deal to help promote those channels. "This is a sponsorship deal, not a broadcasting deal. We will look in the future at all opportunities to broadcast sports as they come up and if an opportunity comes up to broadcast rugby teams then of course we will look at it. "For the rugby fan, we believe we have a lot that is attractive and that is appealing." Mark Dodson, chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union – which owns both Edinburgh and Glasgow – hinted the deal would result in extra money being made available to strengthen both squads. He said: "This is the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal we have ever signed – by some margin. It dwarfs any deal we have signed in the past. "We will always be looking for the best players possible. If that means the player budget rises as a consequence, that is what will happen. "I've given both coaches the reassurance that if there is a top-class player out there that they want, who wants to come to Scotland, we will fund it." Rugby union Glasgow Rugby Edinburgh Rugby BT Sport Sky Sports BSkyB Television industry © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions

Vice All News Time29 July 2013 16:54:34


BT Sport's Premier League plans fail to lift subscriber growth rate

25 July 2013 10:09:12 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Telecoms giant signs up just 23,000 TV subscribers in second quarter compared with 160,000 for budget pay-TV rival TalkTalk BT has so far failed to get the public to switch on to its promise of Premier League football, adding just 23,000 TV subscribers in the three months to 30 June. The company will be concerned that the rate of growth of new subscribers has slumped by almost 43% – it signed up 40,000 subscribers in the previous quarter – despite running a star-studded multimillion-pound ad campaign to entice new customers to its TV service. It spent about £1bn on the rights to 38 Premier League matches each season. BT will be concerned that the budget pay-TV service of arch-rival TalkTalk managed to sign up 160,000 customers in the three months to the end of June. TalkTalk, which maintains that its model proves there is no need to pay hundreds of millions of pounds for expensive sports rights to win customers, is already close to half the size of BT, with 390,000 TV customers despite launching just nine months. BT has a total TV base of 833,000 subscribers. The company attempted pointed out that more than 500,000 households have now ordered BT Sport, the channels which will air content including Premier League football. However, BT admitted that this is "mostly" existing customers who have taken the channels for free as part of re-contracting their BT broadband service. "BT Sport has proved popular with our customers," the company said. "We expect the proportion of new customers to increase after we launch the channels on 1 August," the company said. The channels aren't live yet and the Premiership season doesn't begin until 17 August, so this is a strong start." Andrew Hogley, a telecoms analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, said that there was no expectation in the market that BT would add a huge number of new TV customers at this stage. "On TV we weren't expecting any pick up in adds this quarter, should start to ramp from second quarter," said Hogley. "The 550,000 pre-orders for sports looks OK – we will see what happens next week when ESPN goes off air." BT said that it has spent £40m on BT Sport's "pre-launch costs" in the quarter, which will include setting up its top-end studio facility in the former broadcasting centre in the Olympic Park in east London. The telecoms giant added 95,000 broadband customers in the quarter; TalkTalk reported on Wednesday that it managed to sign up 22,000. Overall, BT reported a 1% fall in revenues to £4.44bn in the quarter, with profit before tax falling 16% to £449m. • To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email media@guardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication". • To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook BT Sport Sports rights Television industry BT Telecommunications industry Premier League Mark Sweney guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time25 July 2013 10:09:12


BT Sport's Premier League plans fail to lift subscriber growth rate

25 July 2013 10:01:40 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

Telecoms giant signs up just 23,000 TV subscribers in second quarter compared with 160,000 for budget pay-TV rival TalkTalk BT has so far failed to get the public to switch on to its promise of Premier League football, adding just 23,000 TV subscribers in the three months to 30 June. The company will be concerned that the rate of growth of new subscribers has slumped by almost 43% – it signed up 40,000 subscribers in the previous quarter – despite running a star-studded multimillion-pound ad campaign to entice new customers to its TV service. It spent about £1bn on the rights to 38 Premier League matches each season. BT will be concerned that the budget pay-TV service of arch-rival TalkTalk managed to sign up 160,000 customers in the three months to the end of June. TalkTalk, which maintains that its model proves there is no need to pay hundreds of millions of pounds for expensive sports rights to win customers, is already close to half the size of BT, with 390,000 TV customers despite launching just nine months. BT has a total TV base of 833,000 subscribers. The company attempted pointed out that more than 500,000 households have now ordered BT Sport, the channels which will air content including Premier League football. However, BT admitted that this is "mostly" existing customers who have taken the channels for free as part of re-contracting their BT broadband service. "BT Sport has proved popular with our customers," the company said. "We expect the proportion of new customers to increase after we launch the channels on 1 August," the company said. The channels aren't live yet and the Premiership season doesn't begin until 17 August, so this is a strong start." Andrew Hogley, a telecoms analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, said that there was no expectation in the market that BT would add a huge number of new TV customers at this stage. "On TV we weren't expecting any pick up in adds this quarter, should start to ramp from second quarter," said Hogley. "The 550,000 pre-orders for sports looks OK – we will see what happens next week when ESPN goes off air." BT said that it has spent £40m on BT Sport's "pre-launch costs" in the quarter, which will include setting up its top-end studio facility in the former broadcasting centre in the Olympic Park in east London. The telecoms giant added 95,000 broadband customers in the quarter; TalkTalk reported on Wednesday that it managed to sign up 22,000. Overall, BT reported a 1% fall in revenues to £4.44bn in the quarter, with profit before tax falling 16% to £449m. • To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email media@guardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication". • To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook BT Sport Sports rights Television industry BT Telecommunications industry Premier League Mark Sweney guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time25 July 2013 10:01:40


Greg Dyke confident for future after £200m FA Cup deal with BBC and BT

18 July 2013 04:13:17 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

• New FA chairman keen to shake up organisation and test ideas • Deal has put the FA Cup 'back where it belongs', say BBC Greg Dyke, the new Football Association chairman, has said he will not be afraid to "throw a few bombs" in his role as he unveiled a new broadcasting rights deal for the FA Cup worth more than £200m that will provide a degree of financial security to his tenure. Under the contract, which runs for four years from 2014-15, FA Cup ties will be shared between the BBC and BT while ITV retains the rights to England's home matches. Dyke confirmed that meant the FA Cup final will move permanently to the a 5.15pm kick off. That late afternoon start time has proved controversial over the past two seasons, particularly this year when there were issues over transport. "I know there are some people in the FA who think that was the betrayal of a tradition but the world changed and you have to accept it," said Dyke. "The increase in the audience over those two years has been so marked. What are we here for? We're here for people to watch football and enjoy it." The FA's aggregate income for the FA Cup and England's home matches over four years is believed to be approaching the high watermark of the £425m paid by ITV and Setanta in 2007. Between them, the BBC and BT are believed to be paying significantly more than the £60m a year ESPN and ITV ended up agreeing over the past two years after Setanta went bust. BT is believed to be paying around £25m a year for its share of the package, which includes more games but no first-pick matches. The BBC's pitch included a promise to make the most of its regional, radio and digital resources to promote the FA Cup. "The BBC put in the highest bid, so they got it. But they also put in a very good pitch about what they could do across all their outlets. We're their only live football so they'll help us promote the FA Cup across their outlets, which is what we wanted," said Dyke. The BBC director general Tony Hall said the deal had put the FA Cup "back where it belongs" on the BBC, which will have first pick of the best matches in each round. "When you poll licence fee payers they say they want the big events to be on the BBC. The FA Cup is one of those big national moments. Working closely with the FA I believe we will change the way we view the FA Cup forever," he said. Dyke's predecessor at the FA, David Bernstein, was consensual in style and brought stability to the organisation but left frustrated by his inability to drive through changes to the FA's structure. In his first interview since starting the job, Dyke said he came into the role with no preconceptions about the structural issues and political rows between the professional and amateur game that have hobbled his predecessors. "I'm one of those people who thinks everything is going to be fine. Make up your mind, decide what you're going to do and do it. Then see what happens. I was asked that question in my interview and I said exactly the same thing," said Dyke, who will immediately face pressing questions about the strength of English football following disappointing performances this summer from the under-20 and under-21 sides . "I've never been one for subtlety. There's a list of ideas and you test the ideas. My theory of management has always been to throw bombs among groups of people. I've no objection if they then say to me it's ridiculous and can't be done," added the former Manchester United director and Brentford chairman. "The job of the chairman is to give the staff confidence to come up with good ideas. The FA is here for the best interests of the game. It's here to do a range of things and I'll expand on that in some speeches over the first six months. In any organisation you've got to have priorities – what are the five things you want to do? And then you get buy in." Dyke said he had known Anthony Fry, the new Premier League chairman, for a long time and that their relationship would benefit both organisations. "I think financial fair play is a good idea," added Dyke, who formally became chairman at the weekend. "But we've now got six different versions of it and what I'm trying to do is get my head around it. What you want to try and work out is which is the most effective." Dyke said that in contrast to when he began at a demoralised BBC, where there was "a very unhappy staff who hadn't liked my predecessor" he was "amazed" that the FA was such a "smiley, happy place". It will be intriguing to see how long that view lasts. The FA FA Cup Greg Dyke Business BBC BT Sport Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time18 July 2013 04:13:17


BBC and BT Sport to share FA Cup TV rights

18 July 2013 04:12:08 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

• Contest to return to BBC in four-year deal from 2014/15 • ITV retains the rights to England's home matches The world's oldest knockout cup competition is to return to the BBC after an absence of seven years, as part of a deal for the FA Cup in which it will share the rights with new entrant BT Sport. The contract, which runs for four years from 2014/15, means that FA Cup ties will be shared between the BBC and BT while ITV retains the rights to England's home matches. Added together, the FA's income for the FA Cup and England's home matches is believed to be approaching the high watermark of the £425m paid by ITV and Setanta in 2007. Director general Tony Hall said the deal had put the FA Cup "back where it belongs" on the BBC, which will have first pick of the best matches in each round. "What has interested me in my first few months here are the lessons of the Olympics in how you bring all the services around the big event, whether that be Wimbledon or Glastonbury," said Hall. "When you poll licence fee payers they say they want the big events to be on the BBC. The FA Cup is one of those big national moments. Working closely with the FA I believe we will change the way we view the FA Cup forever." BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "BT Sport made a determined joint bid to retain the FA Cup rights because we believe it is one of the truly great club football competitions." When ITV chairman Michael Grade engineered a £425m coup with now defunct pay TV broadcaster Setanta to snatch the rights from the BBC and Sky in 2007, it caused fury at the BBC. But ITV later had to admit it had overpaid, while Setanta went bust. The BBC has only now returned to the table and the emergence of BT Sport as a serious challenger to Sky allowed the Football Association to engineer a more competitive auction this time around. The difficulties surrounding the broadcast rights for the FA Cup – when Setanta went under ESPN stepped in, only to exit the market itself when it lost its Premier League package – have compounded the issues involved in maintaining its relevancy. The FA has periodically considered radical changes to the FA Cup format but claimed last season that more subtle moves, including the controversial decision to kick off the final at 5.15pm, had helped reinvigorate it. The teatime kick-off is likely to stay under the new deal. In a twist of fate, the unveiling of the new TV rights deal was the first official public event for new FA chairman Greg Dyke, a former BBC director general. Although he had little to do with the negotiations, when he was at the BBC he was vocal about the need for it to bid for major sporting events. The FA Cup rights were split from the England matches for the first as a result of Uefa's decision to sell the rights for competitive qualifying matches centrally. ITV agreed a £100m deal to cover England's competitive home internationals live until 2018 earlier this year. "What's interesting from our audience research is that they expect the big events to be on the BBC. But not at any price – which is why the BT element of the deal is important," said Hall. Gary Lineker, the Match of the Day presenter who is likely to host the BBC's FA Cup coverage, said the BBC's recapture of the rights would be broadly welcomed by licence fee payers. "It's right for the BBC to try its best, in difficult times when you going up against operators, to bid for what it can," he said. "The BBC has consistently shown what it can do for sport over a long period of time. The Open, Wimbledon, World Cups, European Championships. We'll do this competition justice." Lineker also hit back at critics of Match of the Day's style. "It's still hugely popular, hugely watched and our figures continue to rise season on season. That's where your answer lies. Our graphics are state of the art, we're always looking at ways of doing it differently," he said. "The only criticism we tend to get is that there's not enough analysis – but if we started showing analysis instead of action, we have to get the right balance. We've got good people, great pundits and we're looking at bringing new people in all the time. In terms of pundits, it's a nightmare job – one man's pundit is another man's poison. You either love them or hate them." BBC BT Sport Sports rights Television industry FA Cup Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time18 July 2013 04:12:08


Dyke delight in FA's £200m TV deal

18 July 2013 04:12:07 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

• New FA chairman keen to shake up organisation and test ideas • Deal has put the FA Cup 'back where it belongs', say BBC Greg Dyke, the new Football Association chairman, has said he will not be afraid to "throw a few bombs" in his role as he unveiled a new broadcasting rights deal for the FA Cup worth more than £200m that will provide a degree of financial security to his tenure. Under the contract, which runs for four years from 2014-15, FA Cup ties will be shared between the BBC and BT while ITV retains the rights to England's home matches. Dyke confirmed that meant the FA Cup final will move permanently to the a 5.15pm kick off. That late afternoon start time has proved controversial over the past two seasons, particularly this year when there were issues over transport. "I know there are some people in the FA who think that was the betrayal of a tradition but the world changed and you have to accept it," said Dyke. "The increase in the audience over those two years has been so marked. What are we here for? We're here for people to watch football and enjoy it." The FA's aggregate income for the FA Cup and England's home matches over four years is believed to be approaching the high watermark of the £425m paid by ITV and Setanta in 2007. Between them, the BBC and BT are believed to be paying significantly more than the £60m a year ESPN and ITV ended up agreeing over the past two years after Setanta went bust. BT is believed to be paying around £25m a year for its share of the package, which includes more games but no first-pick matches. The BBC's pitch included a promise to make the most of its regional, radio and digital resources to promote the FA Cup. "The BBC put in the highest bid, so they got it. But they also put in a very good pitch about what they could do across all their outlets. We're their only live football so they'll help us promote the FA Cup across their outlets, which is what we wanted," said Dyke. The BBC director general Tony Hall said the deal had put the FA Cup "back where it belongs" on the BBC, which will have first pick of the best matches in each round. "When you poll licence fee payers they say they want the big events to be on the BBC. The FA Cup is one of those big national moments. Working closely with the FA I believe we will change the way we view the FA Cup forever," he said. Dyke's predecessor at the FA, David Bernstein, was consensual in style and brought stability to the organisation but left frustrated by his inability to drive through changes to the FA's structure. In his first interview since starting the job, Dyke said he came into the role with no preconceptions about the structural issues and political rows between the professional and amateur game that have hobbled his predecessors. "I'm one of those people who thinks everything is going to be fine. Make up your mind, decide what you're going to do and do it. Then see what happens. I was asked that question in my interview and I said exactly the same thing," said Dyke, who will immediately face pressing questions about the strength of English football following disappointing performances this summer from the under-20 and under-21 sides . "I've never been one for subtlety. There's a list of ideas and you test the ideas. My theory of management has always been to throw bombs among groups of people. I've no objection if they then say to me it's ridiculous and can't be done," added the former Manchester United director and Brentford chairman. "The job of the chairman is to give the staff confidence to come up with good ideas. The FA is here for the best interests of the game. It's here to do a range of things and I'll expand on that in some speeches over the first six months. In any organisation you've got to have priorities – what are the five things you want to do? And then you get buy in." Dyke said he had known Anthony Fry, the new Premier League chairman, for a long time and that their relationship would benefit both organisations. "I think financial fair play is a good idea," added Dyke, who formally became chairman at the weekend. "But we've now got six different versions of it and what I'm trying to do is get my head around it. What you want to try and work out is which is the most effective." Dyke said that in contrast to when he began at a demoralised BBC, where there was "a very unhappy staff who hadn't liked my predecessor" he was "amazed" that the FA was such a "smiley, happy place". It will be intriguing to see how long that view lasts. The FA FA Cup Greg Dyke Business BBC BT Sport Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Vice All News Time18 July 2013 04:12:07


BT looking for a Premier League buzz in broadcasting battle with Sky

13 July 2013 23:14:50 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

The new Premier League football broadcaster has unveiled its new studio, talent and intent as it prepares to go to air We're not quite in Rafa Benítez territory, but the battle between Sky Sports and BT Sport is turning as acrimonious as some of the storylines both hope will emerge during the new Premier League season. The high-profile entrance into the market of a deep-pocketed rival to Sky Sports, which has driven the growth of the Premier League and revolutionised sports broadcasting over the past two decades, has raised the stakes for both. On one side of London, towards the M4, Sky is preparing for the season in new studios with an overhauled schedule and new signings, including Jamie Carragher . In the east, at the Olympic Park, BT is putting the finishing touches to vast studios from where its three sports channels will go live on 1 August. The phoney war, which has spanned an escalating PR battle and an advertising blitz from both sides, is almost over. Now BT must match its ambitious rhetoric with reality. Its new studios are housed in the cavernous former Olympic broadcasting centre and include a replica of a football pitch on which pundits including Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves will illuminate the action. They threw open their doors on Monday when Jake Humphrey and his new colleagues began rehearsals. Inside the huge 14,000 sq ft studio, which has been built in record time and to which the Observer was granted exclusive access, a central hub covered in dot matrix screens is the defining feature. The largest plate-glass windows in Europe offer a view into the gallery, while graphics for Clare Balding's show and for Danny Baker and Danny Kelly's weekly programme are displayed on the screens. But the eye is drawn to the full-size goal and hi-tech floor that can display a range of lighting configurations. "It's a blank canvas. The football and the rugby guys are already very excited about what they could do with this space," says BT Sport director Simon Green . Green got the idea for the large, open-plan studio, which will allow viewers to catch glimpses of what is going out on the other BT Sport channels as cameras swoop around, from a broadcaster in Kiev. It will, he says, make the channel feel very different from previous pretenders to Sky's throne. "We're more personality led. We feel we've got a core of presenters who viewers will really enjoy," says Green. "Without getting personal, the presentation of football hasn't come on a huge amount in the last 15 years. We think we'll bring something different." Des Kelly, a journalist who will present a nightly live show that mixes sports news with opinion, entertainment and celebrity guests, said the studios were "like something out of Blade Runner ". Besides the Premier League, BT will air football from around Europe, Premiership rubgy, the FA Cup, WTA tennis, MotoGP, Ultimate Fighting and a range of other sports. It is available free to BT broadband subscribers, but costs £10 a month for non-subscribers. Sky, for its part, has affected nonchalance and has been keen to emphasise the breadth and depth of its offering – it will still show 116 live top-flight matches to BT's 38. Yet Humphrey and the executives who hired him to open up a new flank in BT's broader battle with BSkyB for broadband and television subscibers have been bullish about their prospects. "BT Sport are different to what's gone before, they present a serious challenge. We're the new noisy neighbours, the Man City, so it's natural Sky want to protect their dominant position," says Kelly. BT has argued that Sky's coverage is "cold", promising to bring a new vitality and accessibility. Balding will host a weekly interview show and BT has vowed to bring the inclusiveness of the BBC's Olympics coverage to its channels. "We don't want to be Sky Sports. It is great at what it does. We're much more personality led. We want to be wider and more accessible," said Green. Sky, fiercely proud of its comprehensive coverage and reputation for innovation, has been withering in public and scathing in private about its new rival. The simmering enmity exploded on Thursday when the two broadcasters unveiled their first tranche of live matches for the opening weeks of the season. Sky Sports has bagged the managerial debuts of David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, plus the second coming of José Mourinho, on the opening weekend. Their managing director, Barney Francis, said that contrary to BT's advertising strapline, its lineup of matches showed it was no "game changer" – the implication being that for all its big talk, BT offered little different to other former rivals such as Setanta and ESPN. BT Vision's chief executive Marc Watson hit back, saying the criticism, and a strategy he claimed was designed to "block" BT in the early part of the season, showed that Sky was deeply worried. "They've spent most of their time talking about us. I think they're pretty rattled. I know they're obsessed by us but we're not obsessed by them. We're obsessed by creating some great channels," he said. Asked what he thought of Sky's new Saturday schedule, which will segue from its Football League lunchtime match, to Soccer Saturday, to its new regular teatime live Premier League game and then Football First in front of a studio audience, Watson said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Sky might say the same about some of the BT Sport schedule, particularly the decision to hire Tim Lovejoy to front a light-hearted Saturday morning show. BT had already announced plans for the former BBC F1 frontman Humphrey to anchor a programme in front of an audience to try to retain viewers throughout the day. Now Green says BT may not use a Top Gear -style audience after all. But whether it has enough high-quality content to convince avid fans they need it in addition to Sky, or casual fans to switch to BT Broadband, is the billion-pound question. BT has already invested well over that figure in getting the channels up and running, including acquiring the UK assets of ESPN . It is understood to be hopeful of adding a four-year contract for the FA Cup, perhaps in conjunction with the BBC, to its portfolio from 2014. BT has also spent a small fortune signing up ambassadors such as Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie, who will play as yet undefin

Vice All News Time13 July 2013 23:14:50


BT looking for a Premier League buzz in broadcasting battle with Sky

13 July 2013 23:09:05 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

The new Premier League football broadcaster has unveiled its new studio, talent and intent as it prepares to go to air We're not quite in Rafa Benítez territory, but the battle between Sky Sports and BT Sport is turning as acrimonious as some of the storylines both hope will emerge during the new Premier League season. The high-profile entrance into the market of a deep-pocketed rival to Sky Sports, which has driven the growth of the Premier League and revolutionised sports broadcasting over the past two decades, has raised the stakes for both. On one side of London, towards the M4, Sky is preparing for the season in new studios with an overhauled schedule and new signings, including Jamie Carragher . In the east, at the Olympic Park, BT is putting the finishing touches to vast studios from where its three sports channels will go live on 1 August. The phoney war, which has spanned an escalating PR battle and an advertising blitz from both sides, is almost over. Now BT must match its ambitious rhetoric with reality. Its new studios are housed in the cavernous former Olympic broadcasting centre and include a replica of a football pitch on which pundits including Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves will illuminate the action. They threw open their doors on Monday when Jake Humphrey and his new colleagues began rehearsals. Inside the huge 14,000 sq ft studio, which has been built in record time and to which the Observer was granted exclusive access, a central hub covered in dot matrix screens is the defining feature. The largest plate-glass windows in Europe offer a view into the gallery, while graphics for Clare Balding's show and for Danny Baker and Danny Kelly's weekly programme are displayed on the screens. But the eye is drawn to the full-size goal and hi-tech floor that can display a range of lighting configurations. "It's a blank canvas. The football and the rugby guys are already very excited about what they could do with this space," says BT Sport director Simon Green . Green got the idea for the large, open-plan studio, which will allow viewers to catch glimpses of what is going out on the other BT Sport channels as cameras swoop around, from a broadcaster in Kiev. It will, he says, make the channel feel very different from previous pretenders to Sky's throne. "We're more personality led. We feel we've got a core of presenters who viewers will really enjoy," says Green. "Without getting personal, the presentation of football hasn't come on a huge amount in the last 15 years. We think we'll bring something different." Des Kelly, a journalist who will present a nightly live show that mixes sports news with opinion, entertainment and celebrity guests, said the studios were "like something out of Blade Runner ". Besides the Premier League, BT will air football from around Europe, Premiership rubgy, the FA Cup, WTA tennis, MotoGP, Ultimate Fighting and a range of other sports. It is available free to BT broadband subscribers, but costs £10 a month for non-subscribers. Sky, for its part, has affected nonchalance and has been keen to emphasise the breadth and depth of its offering – it will still show 116 live top-flight matches to BT's 38. Yet Humphrey and the executives who hired him to open up a new flank in BT's broader battle with BSkyB for broadband and television subscibers have been bullish about their prospects. "BT Sport are different to what's gone before, they present a serious challenge. We're the new noisy neighbours, the Man City, so it's natural Sky want to protect their dominant position," says Kelly. BT has argued that Sky's coverage is "cold", promising to bring a new vitality and accessibility. Balding will host a weekly interview show and BT has vowed to bring the inclusiveness of the BBC's Olympics coverage to its channels. "We don't want to be Sky Sports. It is great at what it does. We're much more personality led. We want to be wider and more accessible," said Green. Sky, fiercely proud of its comprehensive coverage and reputation for innovation, has been withering in public and scathing in private about its new rival. The simmering enmity exploded on Thursday when the two broadcasters unveiled their first tranche of live matches for the opening weeks of the season. Sky Sports has bagged the managerial debuts of David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, plus the second coming of José Mourinho, on the opening weekend. Their managing director, Barney Francis, said that contrary to BT's advertising strapline, its lineup of matches showed it was no "game changer" – the implication being that for all its big talk, BT offered little different to other former rivals such as Setanta and ESPN. BT Vision's chief executive Marc Watson hit back, saying the criticism, and a strategy he claimed was designed to "block" BT in the early part of the season, showed that Sky was deeply worried. "They've spent most of their time talking about us. I think they're pretty rattled. I know they're obsessed by us but we're not obsessed by them. We're obsessed by creating some great channels," he said. Asked what he thought of Sky's new Saturday schedule, which will segue from its Football League lunchtime match, to Soccer Saturday, to its new regular teatime live Premier League game and then Football First in front of a studio audience, Watson said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Sky might say the same about some of the BT Sport schedule, particularly the decision to hire Tim Lovejoy to front a light-hearted Saturday morning show. BT had already announced plans for the former BBC F1 frontman Humphrey to anchor a programme in front of an audience to try to retain viewers throughout the day. Now Green says BT may not use a Top Gear -style audience after all. But whether it has enough high-quality content to convince avid fans they need it in addition to Sky, or casual fans to switch to BT Broadband, is the billion-pound question. BT has already invested well over that figure in getting the channels up and running, including acquiring the UK assets of ESPN . It is understood to be hopeful of adding a four-year contract for the FA Cup, perhaps in conjunction with the BBC, to its portfolio from 2014. BT has also spent a small fortune signing up ambassadors such as Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie, who will play as yet undefin

Vice All News Time13 July 2013 23:09:05