Sky is offering a day’s free football, including a Premier League fixture, to viewers across the country to kick off the new season on Saturday 17 August.
On the day, Sky Sports 1 will replace the regular programming on Sky 2 – on Sky and other pay TV services – and Pick TV – on Freeview and YouView – allowing viewers to enjoy a yet-to-be-announced live Premier League match, as well as a Football League fixture and its other football shows, at zero cost.
The move is a clear attempt to woo more subscribers to its coverage, which next season will see 116 live fixtures on Sky Sports.
It is also an attempt to combat the threat of telecoms giant BT's broadcast ambitions and comes on the day that BT Vision boss Marc Watson has invited leading media correspondents for lunch at the BT Tower.
Speaking at this Broadcasting Press Guild lunch, Marc Watson laughed off the stunt when asked about it by RadioTimes.com
He said: "BT Sport is free every day...they should extend that model out to other parts of their product."
He added: "We are pleased to see our arrival has prompted Sky to attempt to raise its game"
Last month, BT launched the biggest challenge yet to Sky's 20-year dominance of British sports broadcasting, snapping up the rights to show 38 Premier League games for the next three seasons, and promising to "give football back to the nation" via live the matches, which will be free to its own broadband customers.
Sky’s free day will include the brand new show Saturday Night Football which will feature Sky’s 5.30pm Saturday evening Premier League fixture. The show is part of Sky Sports’ new-look "weekend of football" which also includes the pairing of ex-Premier League stars Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville for Monday Night Football and a new Saturday schedule running from Soccer AM.
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “It’s our biggest ever season of Premier League football and we’re inviting every home in Britain to enjoy the opening day.”