Not so long ago now, when you spoke of sports on the television, you spoke largely of Sky Sports. Launched in the late 80s, Sky Sports grew to become the primary way for the British population to enjoy top tier sports – propelled by huge deals to bring Premier League football rights to their service exclusively.
However, that all changed in 2013 when a new sports channel launched in the UK, bringing with it a huge library of top tier sports and, incredibly, a large share of Premier League football too. It was the first time since the inception of the Premier League in 1992 that live broadcast rights sat partially outside of Sky.
Best of all? That new channel was completely free for customers of BT’s broadband or TV packages. We speak, of course, about BT Sport. But what do you need to know about BT Sport? In this guide, we’re going to share the history of the channel, the sports you can expect to see and how to get it.
A History of BT Sport
Rumours had been flying that BT were about to get into the sports broadcasting game in some capacity, potentially as an online only experience, but it wasn’t until the 2nd of May 2013 that Bt Sport 1 & 2 were added to the BT TV EPG. The next day, Sky added the channels along with an on-screen message which said that the channels would be ‘coming soon’.
On the 1st of August 2013, BT Sport launched in full with a “long term view” to compete against Sky Sports. The company had signed a landmark deal to take 3 of the 7 available Premier League rights packages at a total cost of £738m over three years. That would give the company the rights to 38 games a season – and give new customers a reason to join.
At this time, BT announced that for any BT Broadband customer that BT Sport would be free to watch. Otherwise, customers would have to pay £12 per month for SD access and £15 per month for HD access. Virgin Media customers on the XL package would get the channels for free, however. Customers pay for BT sport in their normal consolidated bill.
Premier League football was quickly joined by Premiership Rugby and Moto GP in what would become a scramble to amass as many sports rights as they could to compete with Sky.
Exactly two years after the channel first launched BT launched three extra channels – BT Sport Europe which was dedicated to bringing European football and Rugby union, BT Sport Showcase, a free-to-air channel on Freeview showing limited numbers of premium sporting events and BT Sport Ultra HD.
The latter channel was the first UHD channel in the UK and broadcast a range of sports in 4K resolution. Unlike Sky’s later implementation of 4K broadcasting, this system streamed 4K sports over the internet and on to your TV screen.
How can I contact BT Sport – 0844 381 5231
What can I watch on BT Sport?
BT Sport is home to a huge range of sports. Here’s just some of what they offer:
- Premier League Football: A new deal has meant that BT now show 42 live Premier League matches a season until the close of the 2018/19 season.
- FA Cup: Gazumping Sky, BT show 25 live FA Cup games a season, a number which will increase to 30 from the 18/19 season.
- National League Football: 30 live conference games per season until 2018, made up of 25 league matches, the playoffs and the final.
- FA Trophy, Vase and Community Shield: Live broadcast of the finals of each competition.
- SPFL: 30 live games and all playoff matches until 2020. Scottish League Cup competitions are also exclusively seen.
- European League Football: Top flight football from Germany, France, Brazil and Italy are all exclusively available on BT Sport. A total of over 600 games per season. You can also expect to see German Cup and Coupe de la Ligue games.
- EUFA Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup: Every tournament in full, exclusively on BT Sport until 2018.
- Aviva Premiership: 80 live games a season until 2021
- Premiership Rugby Sevens
- Anglo-Welsh Cup
- European Rugby Champions & Challenge Cup: A joint deal with Sky Sports, both showing full games.
- Italy Autumn Internationals: From 2016
- Moto GP: Live until 2018
- World Rally Championship
- IndyCar Series
- World Series by Renault
- BDO World Darts Championship: Shared broadcasting deal with Channel 4
- Major League Baseball
- Major League Lacrosse
- X Games
- UFC: Over 150 hours of live programming a year including all 12 pay-per-view live events and magazine shows.
- Friday Night Fights
- Australian Football League
- European Games
These are just a small sampling of the games and events you can expect to enjoy on BT Sport. Signing up for BT sport is free if you’re a BT broadband customer or Virgin Media XL customer. Otherwise, it costs £12 a month for SD and £15 per month for HD.