BT: we are serious about challenging Sky Sports and in it “for the long haul”

Telecoms giant says it has "deep pockets" and is in talks with various other organisations including Netflix and ITV

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BT, the telecoms giant, is in the premium sports rights arena “for the long haul”, its chief executive Marc Watson said today.

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Watson told RadioTimes.com that his company was not prepared to make the mistakes of other organisations that have sought to challenge Sky’s dominance of the TV marketplace. “We have deep pockets,” he said of his company at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch at the top of the BT tower today, adding: “We are not dependent on achieving a certain number of subscribers to stay in business.”

The bulk of BT’s football matches will be broadcast on Saturday lunchtimes – and BT is offering pubs what it claims to be a 20% discount on Sky tariffs for showing live premiership football.

Asked whether this would mean people would continue subscribing to Sky and watch BT’s football in their local, Watson said that if it showed customers how good their offering was, he would welcome it and that he wasn’t worried about it impacting on BT’s business.

Watson denied suggestions that BT is involved in premium sports coverage merely to boost its broadband subscription rate, insisting that his company was serious about sport and providing fans with the best coverage.

He added that BT also hoped to showcase forms of entertainment other than sport and was in active discussions with various organisations including ITV and Netflix, as well as continuing existing deals with Hollywood studios.

Watson declined to comment on reports that BT is to fine producers large amounts if they miss goals during football matches and failed to show corners. Asked by RadioTimes.com about contracts, they said they were “standard”.

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BT Sport is available for free to BT broadband customers.